Oh no! Another toll hike on bridges and tunnels considered by the MTA

September 20, 2012 Editorial Staff
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Proposed MTA toll hikes have local elected officials seeing red.

At a press conference held on Thursday, September 20, Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and State Senator Martin Golden made clear their opposition to the idea.

“Can you imagine paying $15 to cross the Verrazano Bridge?” Golden said while onlookers at the corner of 92nd Street and Gatling Place – right at the entrance to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge — questioned what was happening.

“In these difficult economic times,” Golden stated, “the Metropolitan Transit Authority is wrongfully again looking to dig deeper into the pockets of motorists who travel across the five boroughs of our city. Drivers are already asked to pay too much to cross our bridges and through our tunnels. We cannot allow this toll increase to happen.”

The proposed increases would mean that crossing the Verrazano Bridge – now $13 roundtrip – would go up two bucks to $15. In addition, motorists would be charged a dollar extra — $5 instead of $4 — at the Henry Hudson Bridge; $6.50 would turn into $7.50 at the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, Whitestone Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Midtown Tunnel, and Battery Tunnel; and lastly, $3.25 will become $3.75, at the Marine Parkway Bridge and the Cross Bay Bridge.

“The MTA must stop looking to commuters for more of our hard earned cash to support their operations,” Golden stressed.

According to Malliotakis, the toll on the Verrazano should only be $7 based on operating costs the MTA incurs at the crossing . “We’re paying [with toll money] for projects that have nothing to do with transportation,” she explained, as Golden supported her by pointing out the 3,000 percent increase since 1964, when the bridge first opened.

“Does anyone remember that when the Verrazano Bridge was built, the toll was 50 cents?” he asked.

Malliotakis also spoke of the effect the toll hike would have on businesses that use trucks to transport their merchandise from Brooklyn to Staten Island or from Manhattan to New Jersey, with the toll hikes into New York City making businesses in the city less competitive compared to businesses in nearby states.

“By raising bridge and tunnel tolls, the MTA is exporting jobs to neighboring states and unfairly burdening local toll payers,” she contended, adding, “We will not stand idly by as another mismanaged transportation agency attempts to balance its budget on the backs of local businesses and commuters.”

“It is a disgrace,” she exclaimed.

One of the hardest hit industries is right on Brooklyn’s waterfront, where operating container ports must compete with ports across the river in New Jersey.

“Our industry is truly drowning underneath the toll hikes and cost increases that continue piling up as irresponsible organizations like the MTA make one job-killing decision after another,” said Louis Pernice, president of Local 1814 International Longshoremen’s Association. “While the economy continues to stagnate, the MTA and Port Authority are playing Russian roulette with the good-paying jobs that are dwindling by the day in our community. The shipping industry simply cannot continue to do business in New York’s ports if these tolls remain on a perpetual escalator.”

The officials are urging commuters to take time to let the MTA know how angry they are at the idea of toll increases.

“Call the MTA. Send a letter, send a fax, or send an email. Say no to their plan to increase tolls,” Golden concluded.

The MTA’s final budget meeting is scheduled for December.

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