Agency Did Not Give Public Enough Time To Comment, Watchdog Finds

NEWARK (CBSNewYork/AP) — When the Port Authority implemented toll hikes two years ago, it did not give the public a sufficient opportunity to provide feedback, a damning government report contends.

The report released by the Government Accountability Office concluded that the Port Authority didn’t give the public enough opportunity to review and comment on the proposed increases.

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Public hearings were held on one day, three days before the hikes were to take effect. The GAO report also found the Port Authority didn’t provide the public with an adequate explanation the toll increases.

“They’re holding hearings just about on one day and at times when the people who would be most affected, those driving, were coming to or from work,” Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the travel group AAA, told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.

The report also suggested the Port Authority lacks sufficient oversight, falling between the cracks of federal and state regulations.

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“It needs to be under someone’s jurisdiction so there are checks and balances,” Sinclair said.

The report has not returned calls from Smith seeking comment but it maintained to the report’s authors that it indeed provided the public sufficient opportunities to comment.

Cash tolls on the authority’s four crossings into New York City were raised 50 percent, from $8 to $12, in September 2011, the first of several scheduled increases.

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