NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Are Port Authority toll hikes being used to rebuild the World Trade Center? That’s what the agency claimed when it argued for the increases.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Story

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“In an August 5th press release, they said that the money needed for the toll hikes would be used for redevelopment of the World Trade Center site,” said Robert Sinclair, Jr., a spokesman for AAA.

The drivers’ group is suing the agency, contending that all toll money should go toward transportation.

“As we see it, the World Trade Center is not a transportation facility and as such toll money should not be used for its redevelopment,” Sinclair told WCBS 880 reporter Peter Haskell.

Now, in court papers defending against the lawsuit, the Port Authority claims the money will not be used at the World Trade Center.

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“Well, the Port Authority is submitting documents that are completely contrasting to things that they have said before,” Sinclair told Haskell.

“I think it’s a good thing that we’re seeing that money go more towards transportation infrastructure and I think it’s a good thing that it’s drawing attention so that we can look at the way the Port Authority does things and more closely monitor it and make sure that we have those checks and balances moving forward,” AAA public affairs director Cathleen Lewis told 1010 WINS.

Because of the ongoing lawsuit, the agency indicates it won’t comment on the discrepancy, but says the complaint from AAA is without merit.

Yesterday, it was announced that the firms of Navigant Consulting and Rothschild will conduct a massive audit of the Port Authority.

On September 18, tolls on the six Port Authority crossings – the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel, Bayonne Bridge, Goethels Bridge, and Outerbridge Crossing – went up to $12 ($9.50 for E-ZPass users).

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Do you think the Port Authority should be using toll money to finance the World Trade Center? Sound off in the comments section below!