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Commuters face GWB toll hike; Tappan Zee traffic normal

Traffic flows on the Tappan Zee Bridge from

Traffic flows on the Tappan Zee Bridge from Rockland to Westchester County, in the background, over the Hudson River. (March 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Rory Glaeseman

Commuters are paying more to drive across the Hudson River into Manhattan.

The next phase of toll increases kicked in at Port Authority bridges and tunnels Sunday.

Cash tolls on the George Washington Bridge, Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing increased $1 to $13.

Tolls for E-ZPass users went from $9.50 to $10.25 during peak commuting hours and from $7.50 to $8.25 during off-peak hours.

George Washington Bridge tolls are collected in the eastbound lanes.

The George Washington Bridge and the Tappan Zee Bridge are the two main spans used by commuters in the lower Hudson Valley to cross the Hudson River. The Tappan Zee, which dates to 1955 and carries the New York State Thruway between Tarrytown and Nyack, is in the early stages of a replacement project that could cost up to $5.9 billion. It is administered by the Thruway Authority.

Tappan Zee tolls stand at $5 for most vehicles, though discounts are offered through E-ZPass. Monday morning traffic was heavy but normal over the span and the Thruway Authority would not comment Sunday as to whether motorists would migrate to the lower-priced crossing.

The agency announced in August that tolls would need to be raised to $14 to pay the cost of building the new Tappan Zee, slated to open in 2017. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others have criticized the proposed $14 toll, urging Thruway officials to consider a smaller increase.

The toll hikes put further pressure on drivers who are "already overburdened by excess tolls, fees, surcharges, high gas prices and gas taxes and a nearly depleted state highway fund," said Robert Sinclair Jr., AAA New York manager of media relations, in a statement.

AAA has filed a lawsuit challenging the toll hikes.

With an eye to improving the Port Authority's financial condition, toll increases were approved in August 2011.

The Port Authority last raised tolls in September 2011.

Tolls are next slated to rise on Dec. 1, 2013, unless the AAA lawsuit against the increase is successful.

With The Associated Press

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