Charge the ships, not the drivers

To The Editor:

The first phase of the Bayonne Bridge Raise the Roadway Project is complete. This project was undertaken to benefit the transportation companies and importers and exporters that sail large vessels into Port Newark/Port Elizabeth. It was not done to benefit the driving public. So now is an appropriate time to ask, why is the driving public paying for the project instead of groups that benefit from the project? The project is projected to cost $1.3 billion (That’s $1,300 million.) This is not the first time ocean shipping companies have requested a major infrastructure project.
In 1997 a project was begun to create a 20-mile rail line between the Port of Long Beach, California, through Los Angles to the main line. It included a 10-mile trench to take the rail line off city streets.
It cost about $1 billion ($1000 million ). It was done by the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority ( ACTA ), a public authority similar to the Port Authority of NJ/NY.
However, there was one big difference between the two projects.
The Alameda rail project was funded by the sale of bonds and private sources, but here is the difference. ACTA imposed a fee on every container that moved on the rail line to pay off the bonds and debt. That is not the case with the Bayonne Bridge project. It is being paid for by the tolls collected from the driving public.
The Governor of New Jersey, along with the Governor of New York, have control over the Port Authority. Should we not insist that a surcharge be placed on the ships passing under the new roadway to pay for it? Imported goods are distributed throughout the country, and exported goods are produced throughout the country. Shouldn’t everyone pay a little for the benefit and not just the driving public of NJ/NY?
Could this result in a reduction of $1300 million in tolls on the bridges run by the Port Authority?

HUGH ROARTY