AAA Declares War On Port Authority Toll Hikes, Says They Are Illegal


holland-tunnel-tollsFinally, someone is trying to help toll-weary drivers. The American Automobile Association is demanding that the federal government put the breaks on huge rate hikes to cross the Hudson River that go into effect Sunday, calling the increase illegal and absurd.

And if the feds won’t do it … they’ll sue, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

The Port Authority’s onerous toll hikes on the Hudson crossings are getting a big Bronx cheer from AAA, which is throwing up a road block to try and stop them from going into effect. Robert Sinclair of AAA said the increases are “unprecedented and unlawful.”

The driver-friendly organization is demanding, first, that the federal Transportation Department stop the hikes, based on a prior legal decision that toll revenue must be used for transportation-related initiatives.

“We think that increasing tolls to pay for cost overruns at the World Trade Center violates that legal decision and will impede interstate commerce and establish a new and ill-conceived policy of diverting toll revenues to local real estate development projects,” Sinclair said.

The rates go up Sunday on the Port Authority’s six Hudson River crossings. The price for E-ZPass users will jump $1.50 from $8 to $9.50 and to $12.50 by 2015. If you pay cash there is a $2 surcharge. PATH train rates will rise from $1.75 to $2 and eventually to $2.75.

The Port Authority refused to comment on AAA’s action and Port Authority Chairman Chris Ward suddenly cancelled a public appearance where reporters could have questioned him. He was on the program of the Metropolitan Transportation Council to offer a tribute to three members who died on 9/11.

Maybe he didn’t want to answer some of the AAA’s charges.

“The process the Port Authority used to implement the toll hikes was rushed and lacked transparency with the Authority holding all the public hearings on one day, and the Authority’s board approving five toll hikes in one action,” Sinclair said.

Drivers are siding with AAA.

“With any agency there’s always waste and if they can’t get rid of the waste why would they raise the toll?” Woodbridge, N.J., resident Carlos Johnson said.

AAA said if the feds don’t act it intends to sue and if it can’t stop the first round of toll hikes from going into effect Sunday it will try to stop the four other rounds that go into effect every year through 2015.

{1010 WINS NY/ Newscenter}