A Delaware Memorial Bridge toll hike appears back on track.
Gov. John Carney and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy reached an agreement allowing the $1 toll increase to go forward later this spring.
The increase was approved by the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) Board of Commissioners in December. But Murphy vetoed it in January, in part because it would fund projects not only at the bridge, but at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and airports operated by the Authority.
The deal gives a 25 cent discount off the new $5 dollar toll to Delaware and New Jersey EZ Pass users in passenger cars and small trucks. It also increases the Frequent Traveler discount rate from $1.25 to $1.75, and then to $2.25 at the start of 2021.
“I’m thrilled to have worked with Gov. Carney to generate this modified proposal that is more fair to commuters, and allows us to invest in the Delaware Memorial Bridge to keep it in good-repair,” said Murphy in a statement. “This modified proposal allows us to ensure the safe passage of travelers from New Jersey and Delaware, while addressing the commuting costs of our residents, critical goals shared by both states.”
The revised toll hike plan will raise an additional $32 million in toll revenue annually. The original plan would have raised $34 million.
"With additional revenue, the DRBA can now proceed with many vital infrastructure investments at Delaware Memorial Bridge and Cape May-Lewes Ferry that otherwise would have been delayed or postponed indefinitely," said Carney in a statement.
The deal will allow DRBA to go ahead with bridge projects, including paint removal and recoating, suspenion rope replacement, and work on a ship collision protection system. Ferry projects going forward include transfer bridge repairs and a ferry repowering program.
The Carney administration also points out the new revenue will allow DRBA to match several federal grants providing funds for bridge, ferry and airport projects.
But the agreement trims DRBA’s Five Year Capital Improvement Plan by $24 million from $423 million to $399 million, with the authority cancelling or deferring some projects not deemed vital or essential. Most involve the Ferry.
If the new plan is approved at the DRBA Board’s Feb. 20th meeting, tolls go up starting May 1st. The toll hike was orginally slated to begin March 1st.