Port Authority Pledges Reforms After Audit Findings; Calls Continue For Toll Hike Rollback
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In the wake of a scathing audit there are demands for the Port Authority to roll back those steep toll hikes at bridges and tunnels between New York and New Jersey.
New reports show the troubled agency mismanaged funds and is accused of wasting billions of dollars. But so far, the “P-A” is saying “N-O,” reports CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
The toll hikes are hurting the average person right now.
“I think they should roll ‘em back. Raising the tolls was kind of crazy,” one commuter said.
WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell With Port Authority Reaction
There’s no question the toll hikes are unpopular, but are they unjustified given audit findings of epic mismanagement at the Port Authority?
Some New York and New Jersey lawmakers say yes — roll the toll hikes back.
“In these dire times, and to see the waste and mismanagement, it’s really offensive to all of us here,” N.J. Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle said.
Port Authority Chairman David Samson said he understands the frustration.
“I wouldn’t have voted for the toll increase last August if I didn’t think it was necessary and appropriate,” Samson said.
Samson said he supports the audit findings that call the Port Authority “a challenged and dysfunctional organization” … “in need of a top-to-bottom overhaul.”
Auditors blamed mismanagement on multi-billion dollar overruns rebuilding the World Trade Center site.
“The commuters of New York and New Jersey are getting shafted,” Port Authority critic Richard Hughes said. “The Port Authority is not doing its core mission, which is repairing the bridges and tunnels and improving the airports.”
However, the Port Authority insists every penny of the toll hike is going to transportation projects.
“Not a dollar of toll revenue has, is, now, or will go outside the interstate transportation network,” Executive Director Pat Foye said.
To insiders, the current troubles at the bi-state agency almost seemed inevitable given the political turmoil of the last decade, which saw five different governors in New Jersey and four in New York — each with his own priorities and filling Port Authority positions with his own people.
“And in the midst of that, went through seven different executive directors in that 10-year period. The last 10 years what this agency has gone through has been completely destabilizing,” Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler said.
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