Breaking News!: New Jersey Turnpike & Garden State Parkway Toll Increases Effective Jan 1st, 2012 6:30 AM

From Lawrenceville Patch:

NJ Turnpike, Parkway Toll Hikes Effective Today

Tolls increased by 50 percent today, Jan. 1, to raise money for state capital projects.

Due to a phased plan increase approved by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority more than three years ago, tolls on both the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway will go up in price by 50 percent, beginning at 6:30 a.m. today, Jan. 1, 2012.

Under the new increases, toll rates on the Garden State Parkway will increase from $0.35 to $0.50 for ramp tolls, from $0.50 to $0.75 for two-way toll plazas, and from $1 to $1.50 for one-way toll plazas.

It is the third hike in tolls for the Parkway since its opening in 1954, and the seventh for the New Jersey Turnpike since that highway’s inception in 1951. The increases were voted on and approved as the second phase of a two-fold toll hike in October 2008, during the administration of former Gov. Jon Corzine.

Turnpike Authority Spokesman Thomas Feeney explained that the toll prices were originally raised to support a decade-long construction projects package totaling $7 billion, including a widening of the Turnpike and the Parkway south of Toms River – in addition to the organization’s $1 billion-plus contribution toward a new rail tunnel to cross the Hudson River.

However, Gov. Chris Christie ordered the rail tunnel project ceased in 2010, claiming that the construction was certain to go over budget, and then redirected the over one billion dollars in revenues to other state transportation projects.