Updated 2/20/02

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Excerpts from Published Letters to the Editor

vote yes- Against Tolls, vote no- For Tolls
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vote noKeep Parkway tolls - Star-Ledger, 2/18/02

As a constant Parkway user, I urge the legislators who are discussing doing away with tolls to rethink what would happen if they did this. New Jersey residents would have to pick up the tab for maintaining this beautiful road.

- S. L., Toms River

I can understand when people who don't use the Parkway want to keep tolls because their roads get all the transportation funding. But someone who doesn't pay tolls really has no right forcing other people to pay them, especially when they take their taxes for their roads.

But I can't understand when a Parkway user supports tolls. I guess I can't fault them if they enjoy the hassle, wasted time, and paying twice as much as they have to. Fine, keep tolls, I don't use the Parkway - thank you very much for your tax dollars. However, I do fault them for supporting a system that pollutes my air.

A typical commuter pays about $63 in state and $110 in federal gas tax every year (15,000 miles/year at 25 MPG). A Parkway commuter pays the same $173 in gas tax, plus over $300 per year in toll tax (two 35¢ tolls each way to work). How do roads like Route 80 stay toll-free while the Parkway costs so much? E-Z! Because Rt. 80 gets both commuter's taxes while the Parkway wastes one-third of the toll revenue simply collecting it.

Stupid is what stupid does. And stupid does tolls. - jp.

vote yesStrong-arming drivers - Star Ledger, 2/2/02

I have resisted using the so-called E-ZPass system because without exception everyone I know who has it has been erroneously fined multiple times. This means either going through major hassles to prove one's innocence or surrendering and paying the fine. Put toll collectors back in the booths because I'm going to need a receipt.

- N. F., Freehold

vote noE-ZPass hypocrisy - Star Ledger, 12/20/01

I am an E-ZPass user. I gleefully "speed" through toll plazas at a lightning-fast 15 mph or so. However, I suffer E-ZPass envy when I hear stories of systems in other states where motorists fly though electronic tolls at highway speeds, never having to stop to wait for the digital ding to move forward.

- J.M., Toms River

CAT: NJ already has a system that lets motorists proceed at highway speeds, and it costs hundreds of millions less than E-ZPass. It's called Rt. 78, 80, 287, & 295. - jp

vote yesCostly notices - Star Ledger, 12/7/01

In recent weeks, I received 11 notices regarding unpaid tolls. Since I have been using E-ZPass, this has happened several times despite the fact that I slow down and always get the "Go E-ZPass" green light. I sent the notices back with my E-ZPass information in one envelope, with 68 cents postage. I got 11 separate dismissal notices. These 22 mailings cost $7.48 in postage. Along with my 68 cents, this is a total of $8.16 - all over $3.85 in tolls, which had already been paid. This is a net loss of $4.31, and does not include the time and materials spent in generating these notices, which represent a much greater expense. If this happens frequently, the road authorities will soon be spending more money than they collect to operate.

- L.L., Morris Plains

vote noA workable system - Star Ledger, 5/15/01

A letter recently asked if people favor Parkway tolls. But did he ask if they favor the state income tax, the federal income tax or local property taxes? Would they favor a drastic increase in state taxes? Of course not. If we have no tolls on the Parkway and Turnpike, who will pay to plow snow, repair road surfaces, make improvements, maintain the neat appearances and install and repair safety devices? Everyone will. Perhaps the writer is willing to make up these losses. Guess he is richer than I am.

- G.R.G., Millburn

CAT: Asking people "Do you favor Parkway tolls?" is just as fair as asking "Do you favor Rt. 80 tolls?". Since all roads need all of those things you mentioned, we should install tolls everywhere so you only have to pay for those things on the roads you use. I'm sure you'd support this, because otherwise you'd be a HYPOCRITE. Please send us a list of toll-free roads you use and we'll get right on installing those tolls. P.S. I hope you'll enjoy paying twice as much for your roads. - jp

vote yesToken effort by Parkway personnel - Star Ledger, 1/27/01

Driving south on the Parkway, I was confronted with abuse and a life-threatening situation at two tolls. At the Toms River toll, my token didn't register and the green light didn't go on. Having paid a $25 file several weeks before, I was determined not to pass the red light. I repeatedly blew my horn for help and could hear horns and obscenities from vehicles behind me. Finally, and attendant told me to proceed. At the next toll, in Barnegat, I encountered the same problem and got no response to my horn blowing, but a tremendous response from the vehicles behind me. I shut off the engine and exited the car. To get help, I had to cross two E-ZPass lanes. From a lane four lanes from my car, a busy attendant yelled, "Go ahead." Again, I had to cross the E-ZPass lanes.

A.I, Nutley.

CAT: I'd like to know if you still get the $25 fines in the mail after going through all that. - jp.

vote yesThe Pepsi Parkway - Star Ledger, 1/11/01

There are two feasible ways to eliminate the cumbersome, time consuming tolls on the Parkway, Turnpike, and Atlantic City Expressway. First, seek corporate sponsors as was done with the arena and arts center. The opportunity for names like the Pepsi Parkway, Tropicana Turnpike, and Alka-Seltzer Expressway should yield several million dollars annually in return for the placement of the companies' names and logos.

W.J.B., Cedar Grove

CAT: Better yet, place a billboard where the tollbooth used to be with the message "THIS TOLL REMOVED COURTESY OF (Your companies name here)". Talk about great publicity. - jp.

vote noKeep the tolls - (Star Ledger, 4/25/01)

The tolls on the Parkway do exactly what they are supposed to do. They ensure that the highway is maintained in first class condition and improved as needed, with funding provided by users. Parkway users should bear the annual operating costs of $170 million if they want the service and maintenance to which Parkway travelers have become accustomed.

Turning the Parkway over to the state Transportation Department would be a mistake. Putting Parkway maintenance and improvement projects in line with all the other state transportation projects would only lead to the deterioration of the Parkway.

Elimination of the tolls would increase Parkway traffic congestion as it has on the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut. Installing high-speed E-ZPass would eliminate toll plaza congestion and be less costly than tollbooth demolition. Let's leave the tolls and use the money to improve the Parkway rather than eliminate the tolls and thereby destroy this special road's wonderful advantages.

- C.A., Basking Ridge

CAT: I don't hear C.A. arguing for tolls on roads near Basking Ridge. And I'm sorry she isn't happy with Rt. 287 if she fears the Parkway would "deteriorate" to that level without tolls. And it must be nice to not have to worry about paying too much for something.

I would like to say "you get what you pay for", but you don't. First, you pay over twice as much in maintenance on the Parkway. Second, a full one-third of your toll is wasted simply from collecting it. And third, you still pay the same gas and transportation taxes as everyone else. Add that up and Parkway commuters pay about 3 times as much as Rt. 287 commuters (see Gas Tax page for details). Hey, you might enjoy the landscaping that much, but to me, roads are supposed to TAKE me to my destination, not BE the destination. And Rt. 287 does that just fine for a LOT less.

And how do you figure high-speed E-ZPass will be less costly than demolishing the tolls. Not only will high-speed E-ZPass ADD to the costs of toll collection, but the original tolls will have to be demolished first so that new plazas can be built. Just how many billions do you want to spend on collecting quarters?

As far as removing the tolls leading to an increase in congestion, I guess C.A. is worried that all the taxpayers who can't afford paying 3 times as much as they need to would start using the Parkway if the tolls were eliminated. I don't know why they would - maybe because it's a MORE DIRECT ROUTE. Translation - tolls keep the riffraff out. -jp.