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Report: Christie appointees led secret toll hike plan

Dave Evans reports from Fort Lee.
May 5, 2014 10:50:23 AM PDT
The question now facing both New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is - were those toll hikes to cross the Hudson River really necessary?

New Jersey Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle is angry over the latest allegations about the bridge, spelled out over the weekend in the Bergen Record.

"You know if there is evidence that there was no reason for these toll hikes to begin with, we should have a rollback," says Assemblywoman Huttle.

Citing interviews it conducted with eight people who were familiar with the operation, The Record reported the campaign was run by Bill Baroni, the authority's former deputy executive director, and his aide, David Wildstein. The goal was to have the bistate agency propose an enormous toll hike so the governors could scale it back and appear to be fiscal hawks, according to the report.

"Commuters should not be paying for the political games, political interference, or the political culture of the Port Authority today," adds Assemblywoman Huttle.

In 2011 the first proposal was an enormous $6 hike pushing the EZ-Pass toll to $14. That was later scaled back to $10.25. The toll now stands at $11.

"Well aside from being very angry about it, it just confirmed for me the need to open up the Port Authority," said New Jersey State Senator Robert Gordon.

Gordon says something has to be done about the Port Authority, if not a Federal monitor, then lawmakers in Trenton and Albany he says should join to force reform at the troubled agency.

"This is an agency that is larger than two dozen states, and two people have total control over this agency, the Governor of New York and Governor of New Jersey," adds Gordon.

Contains copy from the Associated Press.

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