It’s about 77 miles from my house in Bergen County to Yardley, PA, my destination this day.
Mapquest says 1 hour and 42 minutes, but 30 miles of it involves the Garden State Parkway.
And we all know by now what that means: more money for the same ride.
I’m not paying it.
I’d rather drink the Passaic River water. The section below the dam that feeds into the Newark Bay. Where the PCBs await.
I’d rather watch “Jersey Shore” re-runs. With commercials.
I’d rather cover New Year’s Day municipal re-organization meetings at 9 a.m. As if in the 30 years since I covered my first such meeting anything has gotten organized.
Big talk. I still have to get to my meeting in under two hours. And I hadn’t really thought this through.
The truth is I had forgotten about the hike until I came to my first toll on the parkway at exit 150 southbound in Essex County and the new sign said $1.50, up a half a buck since the last time I drove this road on Christmas Day.
Like every other resident of New Jersey, I cursed the continued chiseling.
Then the cheap genes kicked in. I come from a long line of penny-pinchers, Depression-era babies who no matter how much money they made in their lives, still think tomorrow is bankrupt city. They say some traits skip a generation but not the cheap gene this time around.
My father was so crafty at circumventing the tolls in and out of New York from New Jersey that side streets in the Bowery are named after him. The only toll he paid was to the squeegie guys down there. By the time he finished driving the family back and forth to Long Island from Jersey, the Port Authority OWED him $3.
Those glory days memories rattled around as I let my E-ZPass take the first hit of the new toll hike year and vowed to make that my last toll of the day. This could add up over the year as Karen Rouse, a transportation writer with The Record (Bergen County, N.J.) wrote. From top to bottom on the GSP, the freight would be $6.75 up $2.25 from 2011 rates. The NJ Turnpike would be worse at $13.85 for the length, up $9. But paying more money to ride the turnpike would seem to be the least of your worries based on the horror show that goes on that highway.
Muttering down the parkway another 20 miles until Mapquest’s recommendation of Route 1, I gratefully enter the road that during my college years at Glassboro State College looked more like an Amish country buggy wagon-only lane. Today, it’s a carnival. You can buy a car at every light, see a movie, eat a fast meal, outfit your walk-in closet, worship in several languages, fill up your tank from any oil company you like and visit the Rutgers Law Center. They erected stop lights every four feet just so you don’t miss any purchasing opportunities.
Route 1 plugged nicely into I-95, then PA 332 and in an hour and 45 minutes was cruising into a small business park perched adjacent to a field just waiting to be plowed.
Now what to do on the return, was the question. Did I want to eat the toll at Union County’s line for another $1.50 and then again at exit 160 for Bergen?
Stop it. Does Gov. Chris Christie take guff from hecklers at political events?