New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Lynbrook. (June...

New York State Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Lynbrook. (June 30, 2011) Credit: Charles Eckert

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday scaled back a proposed toll hike for Hudson River crossings.

The increase will be $1.50 for cars with E-ZPass instead of $4 as originally proposed by the Port Authority.

In a joint letter to the Port Authority board, which they control, the governors said a hike was necessary, though not one of the size the authority proposed two weeks ago.

The authority controls the George Washington, Goethals, Outerbridge Crossing and Bayonne bridges and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, all of which link New York and New Jersey.

Noting reports of cost overruns and excessive overtime at the authority, Cuomo and Christie said they would support toll hikes if commissioners immediately begin a "comprehensive audit."

"While we did not want to see any toll increase, given the crisis facing the Port Authority and its finances, and the potential safety and economic risks to commuters and businesses, an increase cannot be avoided," Cuomo and Christie wrote.

The governors outlined a menu of hikes they'll support when the Port Authority board meets today at 10 a.m. to vote on tolls

"This is a responsible alternative that balances the infrastructure needs of the region with toll and fare payers' economic realities," the governors wrote.

The authority proposed the steep hikes -- almost doubling many fares over the course of four years -- two weeks ago to address a large deficit.

Both governors balked and Cuomo called the proposal "a non-starter."

Some, including former Port Authority executive director Peter Goldmark, suggested that commissioners pitched dramatically steep hikes so that, after a round of public hearings, they could make the increases more modest.

The agency has come under increasing scrutiny.

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli released an audit Wednesday that said officials had failed to control the $85 million in overtime costs that "flowed like water."

In July, another audit found that the authority lacked documentation for more than $1 billion in service contracts.


The new plan:


TOLL INCREASES OF $1.50 beginning Septempter on cars using EZ-Pass, and another 75 cents starting December of each year from 2012 to 2015.

TOLLS FOR DRIVERS<.b> OF CARS paying cash of $12 beginning in September, $13 in 2012 and 2013, $14 in 2014 and $15 in 2015.

INCREASES FOR TRUCKS using EZ-Pass of $2 per axle starting September, and then an additional $2 per axle beginning December of each year from 2012 to 2015. The same increases on trucks paying cash, plus a $3 per axle penalty.

PATH TRAIN FARE increases of 25 cents a year for four years.

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