A slow economy and harsh weather drove a drop in toll collections on the New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway, but the gap won’t be plugged with more tolls, Turnpike Authority Chairman James S. Simpson said at a meeting this morning.
By year’s end, the agency expects revenue to fall $57 million below the budgeted amount as a slow economy, high gas prices and inclement weather — including Hurricane Irene — drove down traffic and resulted in decreased toll collections, Turnpike Authority officials said at their monthly meeting in Woodbridge.
“Truck traffic was up,” said Simpson, who also serves as state Transportation commissioner. But it wasn’t enough to offset the falloff in car travel, he added.
“But there won’t be further toll increases,” to make up the lost revenue, he said. “We do still have a cushion, and we’ll look at expenses.”
Despite the shortfall, the turnpike authority is moving ahead with a $79.2 million contract awarded to Tishman Construction Corp. aimed at enhancing the security of bridges and other structures along the Turnpike and Parkway. Tishman declined to comment on the contract.