Senator NIA H. GILL
District 34 (Essex and Passaic)
Senator JAMES W. HOLZAPFEL
District 10 (Ocean)
Senators Cryan, O'Scanlon and Gopal
Prohibits NJTA from implementing automatic toll increases and increasing tolls for three years; reduces NJTA tolls.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning tolls collected by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, amending P.L.1948, c.454, and supplementing Title 27 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 5 of P.L.1948, c.454 (C.27:23-5) is amended to read as follows:
5. General grant of powers. The authority shall be a body corporate and politic and shall have perpetual succession and shall have the following powers:
(a) To adopt bylaws for the regulation of its affairs and the conduct of its business;
(b) To adopt an official seal and alter the same at pleasure;
(c) To maintain an office at such place or places within the State as it may designate and to organize itself into such sub-departments, operating divisions or units as it deems appropriate;
(d) To sue and be sued in its own name;
(e) To acquire, improve, construct, maintain, repair, manage, and operate transportation projects or any part thereof at such locations as shall be established by law or by the authority;
(f) To borrow money and issue negotiable bonds for any of its corporate purposes, and to secure the same through the pledging of tolls and other revenues and proceeds of such bonds, or other available sources, and to refund its bonds, and to enter into any credit agreement, all as provided in this act;
(g) In the exercise of any of its powers, by resolution to fix and revise from time to time and charge and collect tolls, fees, licenses, rents, concession charges and other charges for each transportation project or any part thereof constructed or acquired by it. No toll revenues derived from the New Jersey Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway shall be used or available for any transportation project other than a highway project and all transportation projects other than highway projects shall be self-sustaining; provided however that such toll revenues may be used to finance or support the costs of non-highway transportation projects on an interim basis according to such terms, with or without interest, as the authority shall establish. The authority shall not authorize automatic toll increases or adjustments for the use of any highway project and the different parts or sections thereof;
(h) To establish rules and regulations for the use of any project including restrictions on the type, weight and size of vehicles utilizing transportation projects, and also including the power to exclude from any part of a highway project any traffic other than passenger automobiles if the authority finds that such part is not suitable or sufficient as a highway to carry mixed traffic;
(i) To acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property in the exercise of its powers and the performance of its duties under this act;
(j) To acquire in the name of the authority by purchase or otherwise, on such terms and conditions and in such manner as it may deem proper, or by the exercise of the power of eminent domain, except as against the State of New Jersey, any land and other property, which it may determine is reasonably necessary for any transportation project or feeder road or for the relocation or reconstruction of any highway by the authority under the provisions of this act and any and all rights, title and interest in such land and other property, including public lands, parks, playgrounds, reservations, highways or parkways, owned by or in which the State of New Jersey or any county, city, borough, town, township, village, or other political subdivision of the State of New Jersey has any right, title or interest, or parts thereof or rights therein and any fee simple absolute or any lesser interest in private property, and any fee simple absolute in, easements upon, or the benefit of restrictions upon, abutting property to preserve and protect transportation projects.
Upon the exercise of the power of eminent domain, the compensation to be paid thereunder shall be ascertained and paid in the manner provided in the "Eminent Domain Act of 1971," P.L.1971, c.361 (C.20:3-1 et seq.), insofar as the provisions thereof are applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions contained in this act. The authority may join in separate subdivisions in one petition or complaint the descriptions of any number of tracts or parcels of land or property to be condemned and the names of any number of owners and other parties who may have an interest therein and all such land or property included in said petition or complaint may be condemned in a single proceeding; provided, however, that separate awards be made for each tract or parcel of land or property; and provided, further, that each of said tracts or parcels of land or property lies wholly in or has a substantial part of its value lying wholly within the same county.
Upon the filing of such petition or complaint or at any time thereafter the authority may file with the clerk of the county in which such property is located and also with the Clerk of the Superior Court a declaration of taking, signed by the authority, declaring that possession of one or more of the tracts or parcels of land or property described in the petition or complaint is thereby being taken by and for the use of the authority. The said declaration of taking shall be sufficient if it sets forth: (1) a description of each tract or parcel of land or property to be so taken sufficient for the identification thereof, to which there may or may not be attached a plan or map thereof; (2) a statement of the estate or interest in the said land or property being taken; and (3) a statement of the sum of money estimated by the authority by resolution to be just compensation for the taking of the estate or interest in each tract or parcel of land or property described in said declaration.
Upon the filing of the said declaration, the authority shall deposit with the Clerk of the Superior Court the amount of the estimated compensation stated in said declaration.
Upon the filing of the said declaration as aforesaid and depositing with the Clerk of the Superior Court the amount of the estimated compensation stated in said declaration, the authority, without other process or proceedings, shall be entitled to the exclusive possession and use of each tract of land or property described in said declaration and may forthwith enter into and take possession of said land or property, it being the intent of this provision that the proceedings for compensation or any other proceedings relating to the taking of said land or interest therein or other property shall not delay the taking of possession thereof and the use thereof by the authority for the purpose or purposes for which the authority is authorized by law to acquire or condemn such land or other property or interest therein.
The authority shall cause notice of the filing of said declaration and the making of said deposit to be served upon each party in interest named in the petition residing in this State, either personally or by leaving a copy thereof at his residence, if known, and upon each party in interest residing out of the State, by mailing a copy thereof to him at his residence, if known. In the event that the residence of any such party or the name of such party is unknown, such notice shall be published at least once in a newspaper published or circulating in the county or counties in which the land is located. Upon the application of any party in interest and after notice to other parties in interest, including the authority, any judge of the Superior Court assigned to sit for said county may order that the money deposited with the Clerk of the Superior Court or any part thereof be paid forthwith to the person or persons entitled thereto for or on account of the just compensation to be awarded in said proceeding; provided, that each such person shall have filed with the Clerk of the Superior Court a consent in writing that, in the event the award in the condemnation proceeding shall be less than the amount deposited, the court, after notice as herein provided and hearing, may determine his liability, if any, for the return of such difference or any part thereof and enter judgment therefor. If the amount of the award as finally determined shall exceed the amount so deposited, the person or persons to whom the award is payable shall be entitled to recover from the authority the difference between the amount of the deposit and the amount of the award, with interest at the rate of six per centum (6%) per annum thereon from the date of making the deposit. If the amount of the award shall be less than the amount so deposited, the Clerk of the Superior Court shall return the difference between the amount of the award and the deposit to the authority, unless the amount of the deposit or any part thereof shall have theretofore been distributed, in which event the court, on petition of the authority and notice to all persons interested in the award and affording them an opportunity to be heard, shall enter judgment in favor of the authority for such difference against the party or parties liable for the return thereof. The authority shall cause notice of the date fixed for such hearing to be served upon each party thereto residing in this State, either personally or by leaving a copy thereof at his residence, if known, and upon each party residing out of the State, by mailing a copy to him at his residence, if known. In the event that the residence of any party or the name of such party is unknown, such notice shall be published at least once in a newspaper published or circulating in the county or counties in which the land is located. Such service, mailing or publication shall be made at least 10 days before the date fixed for such hearing.
Whenever under the "Eminent Domain Act of 1971," P.L.1971, c.361 (C.20:3-1 et seq.) the amount of the award may be paid into court, payment may be made into the Superior Court and may be distributed according to law;
(k) To designate the locations, and establish, limit and control such points of ingress to and egress from each highway or transportation project as may be necessary or desirable in the judgment of the authority to insure the proper operation and maintenance of such project, and to prohibit entrance to such project from any point or points not so designated;
(l) To make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of its duties and the execution of its powers under this act and to enter into contracts with federal, State and local governments and private entities for the financing, administration, operation, management and construction of transportation projects;
(m) To appoint such additional officers, who need not be members of the authority, as the authority deems advisable, and to employ consulting engineers, attorneys, accountants, construction and financial experts, superintendents, managers, and such other similarly situated employees and agents as may be necessary in its judgment; to fix their compensation; and to promote and discharge such officers, employees and agents, all without regard to the provisions of Title 11A of the New Jersey Statutes;
(n) To receive and accept from any federal agency, subject to the approval of the Governor, grants for or in aid of the acquisition or construction of any transportation project or any part thereof, and to receive and accept aid or contributions, from any source, of either money, property, labor or other things of value, to be held, used and applied only for the purposes for which such grants and contributions may be made;
(o) To do all acts and things necessary or convenient to carry out the powers expressly or impliedly granted in this act;
(p) Subject to any agreement with the bondholders, to invest moneys of the authority not required for immediate use, including proceeds from the sale of any bonds, in such obligations, securities and other investments as the authority shall deem prudent;
(q) To apply for, receive and accept from any federal agency, any bistate agency, or the State and any subdivision thereof, grants for or in aid of the planning, acquisition, management, maintenance, operation or construction of any project, and to receive and accept aid or contributions from any other public or private source, of either money, property, labor or other things of value, to be held, used and applied only for the purposes for which those grants and contributions may be made;
(r) To procure and enter into contracts for any type of insurance and to indemnify against loss or damage to property from any cause, including the loss of use and occupancy and business interruption, death or injury of any person, employee liability, any act of any member, officer, employee or servant of the authority, whether part-time, compensated or uncompensated, in the performance of the duties of office or employment or any other insurable risk or any other losses in connection with property, operations, assets or obligations in any amounts and from any insurers as are deemed desirable. In addition, the authority may carry its own liability insurance;
(s) To adopt regulations, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to provide open and competitive procedures for awarding contracts for towing and storage services. Towing and storage services on a highway project may be provided on a rotating basis, provided that the authority determines that there would be no additional cost to the authority, excepting administrative costs, as a result of those services being provided on a rotating basis. The regulations shall fix maximum towing and storage fees, and establish objective criteria to be considered in awarding a contract for towing and storage services which shall include, but shall not be limited to, reliability, experience, response time, acceptance of credit cards and prepaid towing contracts, adequate equipment to safely handle a sufficient volume of common vehicle types under a variety of traffic and weather conditions, location of storage and repair facilities, security of vehicles towed or stored, financial return to the authority, maintenance of adequate liability insurance and appropriate safeguards to protect the personal safety of customers, including considerations related to the criminal background of employees. The Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety shall provide, at the authority's request, a report to the authority on any prospective contractor for which the division has information relevant to the prospective contractor's service record, subject to the provisions of the New Jersey consumer fraud act, P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.). The Division of Insurance Fraud Prevention in the Department of Banking and Insurance also shall provide, at the authority's request, a report to the authority on any prospective contractor for which the division has information relevant to the prospective contractor's service record, subject to the "New Jersey Insurance Fraud Prevention Act," P.L.1983, c.320 (C.17:33A-1 et seq.);
(t) To adopt, prior to the Transfer Date and notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a resolution authorizing the issuance of bonds, notes or other obligations on such terms as otherwise provided for in this act for the retirement by defeasance, redemption, secondary market purchase, tender payment at maturity or otherwise, of all of the New Jersey Highway Authority's outstanding bonds, notes or other obligations, as if the Transfer Date transferring to the authority the rights, duties and obligations to operate, maintain and manage the Garden State Parkway had already occurred; and
(u) To transfer, sell, dispose of, or otherwise relinquish all right, title, or interest in the Garden State Arts Center, and any related or auxiliary facilities, to the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, established by P.L.1971, c.137 (C.5:10-1 et seq.), or to any other entity, according to such terms and process as the authority may establish in its discretion.
(cf: P.L.2003, c.79, s.9)
2. (New section) Notwithstanding any law, rule, regulation, resolution, or order to the contrary, any toll collected by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority shall be fifty cents less than the toll rate applicable on September 14, 2020 and, notwithstanding any law, rule, regulation, resolution, or order to the contrary, the authority shall not increase such toll rates or establish any new toll for the use of any highway project, and the different parts or section thereof, until after December 31, 2024.
3. This act shall take effect immediately.
This bill prohibits the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) from authorizing automatic toll increases or adjustments. The bill reduces all NJTA toll rates by fifty cents from the toll rate applicable on September 14, 2020 and prohibits the NJTA from increasing any existing toll or from establishing any new toll until after December 31, 2024.
In May of 2020, the NJTA approved a resolution to, in part, approve the NJTA’s Long-Range Capital Plan and to increase tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. The toll increases became effective on September 13, 2020. The resolution also allowed the NJTA to increase tolls up to a maximum of three percent per year starting on January 1, 2022. This bill prohibits these annual toll increases from taking effect and reduces, by fifty cents, the toll increase that took effect on September 13, 2020.