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Sen. Lautenberg, Port Authority Exec Bill Baroni Get Heated About Toll Hikes On Capitol Hill

(credit: CBS 2)

(credit: CBS 2)

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSNewYork) - A hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday focused on an issue that is of major concern to commuters — high tolls. And New York and New Jersey are in the spotlight.

Crossing the Hudson River is no bargain for many, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which sets tolls prices and receives federal money, was one of several agencies that was the focus of the Senate hearing, 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reported

The hour-long hearing on Capitol Hill was heated and contentious as New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg hammered Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni over who authorized the 50 percent toll hike.

“I asked you a question,” Lautenberg demanded of Baroni on the stand. “Who raised it? You said the Port Authority did. You said that the governors had yet to have seen it. Is that what you’re suggesting?”

“Well, again, I’m not going to comment on who saw what, when,” Baroni replied.

“Well, you are going to comment,” Lautenberg responded harshly. “You have a responsibility to comment, my friend, whether you like it or not!”

Lautenberg demanded to know if $12 to cross the George Washington Bridge, Holland Tunnel or Lincoln Tunnel was fair, to which Baroni replied that it was.

For someone who doesn’t get an E-ZPass, and is backing our traffic up at the Lincoln Tunnel this morning, yes, it’s fair,” Baroni insisted.”

The deputy executive director concedes that his agency has been dysfunctional for decades, but maintains that the current leadership is trying to clean it up. He also defended the hike as necessary.

Lautenberg has introduced a bill giving the transportation secretary the power to roll back excessive toll hikes by agencies receiving federal funds.

How much have toll hikes impacted your monthly budget? Share your thoughts and comments below…