The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has appealed an order
by a New York State judge to provide a New York state assemblywoman with a study of how bridge toll increases will affect the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island.
Fares on the Goethals, Outerbridge and Bayonne bridges, which connect Staten Island to New Jersey, are scheduled to rise sharply over the next few years.
For example, the cash bridge toll for a six axle truck-trailer using one of the port authority’s bridges to reach the island is currently $78 and will climb to $126 by December 2015. Fares are lower for trucks equipped with EZ Pass RFID (radio frequency identification device) tags—for example the off-peak hour EZ Pass toll is currently $54 and will rise to $102 in December 2015. (There are additional charges if a truck has more than six axles.)
State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis filed a lawsuit against the agency in August after it refused her request for a copy of a study under a freedom of information request.
The agency only provided her “with a spreadsheet and raw data, but not the key to interpret what it meant. It might as well be in Morse code,” she told the Staten Island Advance newspaper
. The agency argued the report she wanted was was a draft.
Supreme Court Judge Joseph Maltese ordered the port authority last week to give Malliotakis the study by Sept. 18.
The authority argued that its freedom of information policy does not require release of consultative records or draft reports, but Maltese said "nowhere in the 103 page study with colored charts is it labeled as a draft.... There does not appear to be anything in the study that is confidential in nature."
He said it was a tabulation of a five-day study of truck volumes that go to NYCT and must pay a toll on port authority bridges as opposed to those going to and from Global Container Terminal in Jersey City/Bayonne, which is owned by the same company.
According to Malliotakis’s office, the port authority on Tuesday appealed Maltese’s decision to the state’s appellate division. (In New York, the “Supreme Court” is actually a trial court.)
The port authority could not be immediately reached for comment. Its board of commissioners meets today and one of the items on its agenda is an amended and restated agreement for New York Container Terminal. - Chris Dupin