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Port Authority Chairman Says Toll, Fare Hikes Weren’t Imposed To Pay For WTC

CBS 2's Steve Langford asks Port Authority Chairman David Samson a question. (credit: CBS 2)

CBS 2′s Steve Langford asks Port Authority Chairman David Samson a question. (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Just a day after the release of what the Port Authority called an independent report into how the agency is managed,  new questions were raised about the toll hikes and their connection to rebuilding the World Trade Center.

When asked by CBS 2′s Steve Langford if the agency’s reports dealt with the federal lawsuit against the toll hikes, Port Authority Chairman David Samson replied “Not directly.”

The billion dollar question is exactly where is the Port Authority toll hike money is going. That question was apparently not part of the reports, which claim the agency absolutely needs all the new money it is collecting as part of the hikes.

Langford: “Now you understand that the toll hikes can’t be used to pay for the World Trade Center?”

Samson: “That’s my understanding.”

Langford: “Well, why are there two press releases from the Port Authority from last year, saying that you needed money for, among other things, to pay for the World Trade Center?”

Samson: “This question, this question, with all due respect, this question…”

Langford: “It’s your own press release.”

Samson: “I understand.”

The two Port Authority press releases, from Aug. 5 and Aug. 19 in 2011, respectively, directly and prominently cite the need to pay to rebuild the World Trade Center, which would violate legal precedents requiring toll money be used only for transportation-related projects.

But the Port Authority denied this after being taken to federal court by AAA New York and North Jersey.

Samson: “If you’re asking the question of whether the tolls and fare increases were imposed to pay for the World Trade Center, is that what you’re asking?”

Langford: “Well, it says right here in your press release.”

Samson: “Is that what you’re asking me?”

Langford: “It’s right here.”

Samson: “The answer is no.”

Langford: “Well, who wrote the press release?”

Samson: “I don’t know the specific reference you’re making?”

The next Port Authority toll hike, a $1 increase, will go into effect Dec. 2.

The Port Authority also announced Thursday it will study the possibility of extending PATH train service to Newark Liberty Airport.