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Exclusive: Port Authority $1 Billion Toll Hike Was Ruse To Give Governors Cover

Sources: By Talking Big, PA Clears Way For Cuomo, Christie To Pass Lesser Hike
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The George Washington Bridge is seen from the Fort Lee Historic Park - Fort Lee, NJ - Sep 29, 2010 - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

The George Washington Bridge is seen from the Fort Lee Historic Park – Fort Lee, NJ – Sep 29, 2010 – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Marcia Kramer thumbnail Marcia Kramer
Marcia Kramer joined CBS 2 in 1990 as an investigative and political...
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The proposed steep toll hikes on the Hudson River crossings are already water under the bridge.

The governors of New York and New Jersey and Port Authority commissioners are working on plans to shrink the increase.

CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer has the exclusive on the “real” fees you can expect to pay.

Drivers going into the Holland Tunnel on Tuesday probably thought their trip into Manhattan was among the last before rates were scheduled to skyrocket. But guess what? They fooled you.

The steep hikes sought by the Port Authority for the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and other crossings, and the PATH train are not expected to be as high as you think.

Kramer has learned that the $4 increase in tolls during peak hours is now only expected to be $2. The $2 off-peak increase is now expected be only $1. And the PATH train rates are expected to go up 50 cents, not $1.

Sources told Kramer on Tuesday that the lower rates were always the goal. They only asked for the higher rate as part of a carefully orchestrated political ballet to give Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gov. Chris Christie cover for approving any hike at all.

The push back from the original Port Authority plan released just last Friday is already in full gear.

Cuomo said it was a bad time to pick taxpayers’ pockets.

“I think that proposal is a non-starter for obvious reasons,” Cuomo said.

New Jersey Gov. Christie blamed past Port Authority leadership for over spending, and past political leaders for not being there to hold the Port Authority’s feet to the fire, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“They weren’t. Governor Corzine was not, Governor Paterson apparently was not, and Mayor Bloomberg to the extent that he had input as well, was not,” Christie said.

Mayor Bloomberg declined to fire back, but commuters are plenty outraged.

“Is a ruse … they make feel OK … taxes are going up, tolls are going up 5 to 20 percent then you say why and get all crazy? They say I’m sorry. It’s only going to be one. You feel all better about it and it passes,” Mahwah, N.J. resident Rod Aird said.

“I don’t think there should be any increase,” added John Merrick of Bayonne.

The new lower fares and toll hikes are expected to be introduced when the board meets on Aug. 19.

The one group that escaped toll hikes completely is truckers making night deliveries from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The Port Authority wants to encourage night deliveries to reduce congestion.

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