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NJ Toll Hikes May Not Be Popular, But Some Argue They Are Necessary


Greg Lalevee of the International Union of Operating Engineers says road maintenance carries real economic benefits

Tolls rise 3% on the New Jersey Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway on Jan. 1.

Drivers aren’t happy about it but Greg Lalevee of the International Union of Operating Engineers said the roads have to be kept up.

“We’ve come to a point where logistics are a big deal and we need to keep the goods and services moving through all these warehouses that we’ve built,” he said. “Our port is critical to our economy.”

He added that tourism is so important to New Jersey and pointed to the toll increases that helped to fund expanding the Parkway south of Long Beach Island and eliminating all the traffic lights in Cape May.

Fitch Ratings has given the Turnpike Authority’s bonds an A-plus rating. Lalevee said that and the toll hike mean more money to work on the roads.

“When we have A-plus ratings from people like Fitch we do better out in the market and we’re not paying as much interest back over time when we bond things or borrow,” he said.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ latest infrastructure report card says New Jersey’s roads are in worse condition than the national average.

Lalevee said the increase is also necessary to keep up with the costs of doing road work.

“Nobody wants to pay higher tolls, I think 3% is modest, especially when we look at what general building materials have gone up in the last three years, said Lalevee.

Janice Kirkel is a lifelong award-winning journalist who has done everything from network newscasts to national and local sports reports to business newscasts to specialized reporting and editing in technical areas of business and finance such as bankruptcy, capital structure changes and reporting on the business of the investment business.