Mobilizing the Region
Issue 258February 25, 2000

Non-Stop Parkway Bill Absent in NJ Senate

On January 7th, the Parkway Barrier Toll Removal Act (A35) passed the NJ Assembly Transportation Committee with five votes in support, one against, and one abstention. The bill is now with the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The bill calls for installment of high-speed, electronic payment toll lanes by reorganizing "barrier" toll plazas that lie across the highway main-line to permit high speed non-stop toll collection for E-ZPass users. The legislation requires that such changes be made once E-Z pass users make up 2/3 of all drivers on the Garden State Parkway. The reconfiguration of the plazas would be paid for by a 15 cent toll increase for cash-payers, which also creates an incentive for drivers to adopt the congestion-busting technology.

But the Act's future is uncertain. We mistakenly reported in MTR #255 that the bill had been introduced in the State Senate, but it has not. The office of Senator Robert Martin (R-Morris), the bill's primary sponsor last year, told the Campaign that Senator Martin is "still considering" introducing S2062 this session. Perhaps he is weighing the comments of Senate Transportation Committee Chair and last year's bill co-sponsor, Senator Ciesla (R-Ocean County) reported recently in the Asbury Park Press. Ciesla said that "right now" he does not plan to put his name on the Toll Removal Act.

Senator Ciesla reasoned that installing high-speed toll collection lanes would be a "complex and costly" endeavor, citing specifically the challenge of safely merging the slowed vehicles of cash-paying drivers with the high-speed lanes. The Senator should inspect the engineering solution developed by the NJ Turnpike already installed at Interchange 6, and at toll roads elsewhere in the country to permit high speed toll payment, and decide whether the Parkway is up to the job of replicating already proven toll plaza designs.

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