This morning an unofficial source advised me that the South Jersey Transportation Authority was full steam ahead, planning to move forward with this Wednesday and Thursday’s (April 1 & 2, 2020).

I didn’t want to believe it. It’s very fitting that this charade will be taking place on “April Fools Day.”

If our present times were not so serious, this would be a joke.

What kind of government would move to raise the tolls on the Atlantic City Expressway by 41 percent during a world health epidemic?

Now we know. New Jersey State government.

They will proceed with their public hearings scheme. The Commissioners are slated to meet by phone.

This is crazy. I still can’t believe it.

Even worse. These orders come straight from the top. Incredulously, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has just given them political cover.

The Governor was asked during his daily Coronavirus briefing should this public hearing take place?

Our Governor answered “Yes, by phone.”

They still fail to comprehend that raising tolls in such a time of crisis is wrong at every human level.

So many people are hurting and unemployed right now. Why do this now?

The Atlantic City Area is projected to be the third hardest hit city in America, with a projected 34 percent unemployment rate.

Hopefully, the citizens of this region and state will have a long memory when it comes to this callous, circus stunt of utter disrespect for the citizens of the Greater Atlantic City region.

They should be assisting residents and businesses with the process of applying for financial help.

That’s what people really need at this time. Not higher tolls during a time when people are at risk of becoming sick and some are actually dying.

There will be plenty of time for our New Jersey politicians to do what they do best; raise our taxes, fees and tolls.

SJTA Commissioners James J. “Sonny” McCullough and Bob McDevitt both formally requested for these public hearings to be postponed.

New Jersey State Senator Chris Brown, R-2 also did everything in his power to stop it.

In fairness, they did their job and looked out for the people who are hurting at this fragile, unprecedented time.

Somehow, the state’s agenda to dramatically increase the roadway tolls is more important at this time than a once every 100 years deadly world health pandemic.

Shame on you for this. It’s a rotten thing to do at such a fragile time when many people are scared and even feeling a sense of panic.

You have not inspired confidence with this unconscionable move.

NOTE: Senator Brown sent me his statement regarding this matter:

“I’ve reached out to board members and simply asked the SJTA to wake up and pay attention to what is happening all around them - people are constantly checking their health, businesses are closing their doors, and families who have just lost their jobs are wondering how to pay the mortgage while trying to home school their children in math they haven’t used in a long time. Now is not the time, during a crisis with a quarantine, to ask families and businesses, with all they have on their plate, to fully vet such an aggressive plan to raise tolls by 41% and spend a half a billion dollars using only email and phone calls.”
Christopher A. Brown Esq.

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