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(Updates with Port Authority statement in fifth paragraph.)
Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Two New York-area chapters of AAA sued to reverse toll increases they said are being illegally used to subsidize the rebuilding of the World Trade Center.
AAA New York and AAA North Jersey sued the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in federal court in Manhattan to roll back toll increases that took effect this month at bridges and tunnels including the George Washington Bridge and the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels.
“The Port Authority forces bridge and tunnel users to fund cost overruns and subsidize the speculative and unprofitable reconstruction and operation of the World Trade Center from which toll payers receive no benefit,” AAA claimed in its complaint filed today.
AAA is seeking a court declaration that the toll increase is illegal and an order reinstating the earlier toll rates.
“We have reviewed the complaint and it is without merit,” Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said in an e-mailed statement.
The Port Authority, citing economic recession, increased security costs and the need to overhaul its facilities, announced proposed toll and fare increases on Aug. 5.
Beginning Sept. 18, the Port Authority raised the price for passenger cars using its E-ZPass system from $6 to $7.50 roundtrip for off-peak travel and from $8 to $9.50 during peak hours.
AAA claimed the increase violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the federal Highway Act of 1987 and various court decisions, which require that the tolls on Port Authority bridges and tunnels be “just and reasonable,” according to AAA.
The case is Automobile Club of New York Inc. v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 11-cv-06746, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
--Editors: Michael Hytha, Mary Romano
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