Judge Mulling Release of 2011 Toll Hike Documents

NEW YORK (AP) -

An automobile association went back to court Wednesday to try and convince a judge to force the Port Authority to release internal documents that could shed light on the decision to raise tolls on bridges and tunnels in 2011.

The proceeding was the latest chapter in a three-year-old lawsuit filed by the American Automobile Associations of New York and North Jersey in response to the four-year, phased-in hikes. Cash tolls went from $8 to $12 in 2011 and are scheduled to reach $15 next year.

AAA claims in the suit that the increases violated federal law because they were to be used partly to cover redevelopment of the World Trade Center and weren’t solely for transportation-related projects. They also claim the Port Authority changed its story after the lawsuit was filed when the agency said none of the revenues would be used for the trade center.

The Port Authority has claimed it has produced financial documents that show the hikes were needed for transportation-related capital projects.

Last week, the AAA filed for a preliminary injunction to stop the next round of increases, which are scheduled for early December. That motion is pending.