Red Bank commuters may encounter a familiar face as they slow to pay a toll on the New Jersey Turnpike one day soon.
Borough Councilman Mike DuPont could be in the tollbooth, making change.
The Asbury Park Press reports that DuPont, a lawyer who wears a third hat as a New Jersey Turnpike Authority commissioner, has accepted a challenge by the tolltaker’s union to walk – or stand still – a mile in their shoes.
The offer, by Kevin McCarthy, president of Local 194 International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers AFL-CIO, comes as the union is fighting a proposed privatization of cash toll collections this year, Press reporter Larry Higgs writes.
It also “came on the heels of what union officials said was outgoing director Veronique Hakim’s characterization of toll collectors as unskilled workers. Hakim was approved as NJ Transit’s director Monday.”
“I’ll take your offer. You tell me the time and place,” the Press quotes DuPont as telling McCarthy. “I’ll go to Bayonne, I’ll go to Exit 7. Put me in an individual (toll) booth. I don’t care what time it is. I’ll get up at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m.”
State Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson also told the Press he’d accept the challenge.
From the Press:
“I’d be happy to do that,” Simpson said of the union’s challenge. “I’ve been alongside toll booths, and it is scary.”
On Wednesday night, Dupont said he had been contacted about undergoing training and told that he would be stationed in a New Jersey Turnpike toll booth on busy Interchange 11 in Woodbridge. A date had not been set, he said.