ARLINGTON, VA – In testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, NFI Chief Financial Officer Steve Grabell warned that rapidly increasing toll rates, as well as the spread of tolls across the transportation system, are a threat to consumers and to the trucking industry.

"I am deeply concerned about the significant increases in toll costs that have been imposed on NFI and other trucking companies over the past few years," Grabell, testifying on behalf of American Trucking Associations (ATA), said during a hearing of the Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security.

Grabell told the Committee's chairman, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and other members that in 2011 the Cherry Hill, N.J.-based NFI paid $14 million in tolls.

"These added costs have forced us to re-route our trucks to less efficient secondary roads, which raises our costs and increases congestion and safety concerns. In addition to the impact increased tolls have on logistics providers, the added costs associated with toll increases filter down to the consumer and affect business decisions regarding hiring and facility location and expansion. Where toll facilities serve interstate traffic, we believe that federal oversight and possible intervention in determining toll rates is necessary and appropriate," Grabell said, urging the committee to support the Commuter Protection Act, introduced by Chairman Lautenberg to provide federal oversight for toll authorities.

Grabell said the planned increases in tolls on the bridges between New York and New Jersey operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would increase tolls 163 percent by 2015, to a total of $105 per truck, which is "nearly three times greater than the country's next highest bridge toll," adding that it "appears the vast majority of the revenue … will be used to benefit seaports and airports and to complete the reconstruction of the World Trade Center office buildings."

He added that "Congress has an obligation under the Constitution's Commerce Clause to ensure that interstate travelers, who may not be represented when toll rate setting and spending decisions are made, have a voice in these processes." Grabell noted that the ATA believes the Commuter Protection Act "is a significant step toward ensuring better oversight of tolling authorities that serve interstate traffic."