Brooklyn Boro

‘Gridlock’ Sam explains Move NY to the Eagle, says it’s a ‘big win’ for Brooklyn

April 1, 2016 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Gridlock’ Sam climbs the Williamsburg Bridge. Photos courtesy of Sam Schwartz.
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Traffic and transit buff “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday that the Move NY Fair Plan will help Brooklyn immensely, namely by creating jobs for Brooklynites and by reducing traffic on local streets and on the East River bridges.   

Schwartz’s broad-based transportation plan would change city tolls and allay traffic congestion across the city while creating a $4.5 billion Transit Gap Investment Fund to expand and improve transit infrastructure.

“We have no dedicated fund for roads and bridges now,” Schwartz told the Eagle, “so this plan will provide that dedicated fund.

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“We also will be able to plug the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s [MTA] gap, and then we will have a transit fund that would be distributed around the city for transit projects, particularly in areas of poor transit,” Schwartz continued. “Local communities and elected officials will be able to petition for that money.”

According to Schwartz’s plan, the city will lower tolls on every MTA-owned bridge, including the Verrazano Bridge, the Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, the Cross Bay Bridge, the Throgs Neck Bridge, the Whitestone Bridge and the RFK Bridge.

Schwartz says that the city will install electronic tolling systems on the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge. The toll will be $5.54 with E-ZPass or $8 without.

In addition to the East River bridges, 60th Street in Manhattan would become a tolling place for automobiles heading north or south.

Schwartz explained the reasoning behind the aforementioned toll price.

“The reason for that price is because that’s exactly what people pay at the Battery Tunnel and at the Midtown Tunnel,” Schwartz told the Eagle. “This way, no one will be driving out of their way through the streets of Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn.

“Most of the traffic in Downtown Brooklyn is not Downtown Brooklyn traffic, it’s pass-through traffic trying to avoid the tolls, so this [plan] would eliminate that,” Schwartz stated.  

Schwartz says there will initially be tolls on both sides of the bridges, but he expects the city to eventually only have charges for Manhattan-bound vehicles.

Schwartz explained to the Eagle how the electronic tolling will work.

“By the time we go ahead with this, there will be apps to pay charges,” said Schwartz. “Also, there’s license plate photography that is used in London that has been very successful.

“Here in New York, if you don’t have an E-ZPass and you take the Henry Hudson Bridge, a picture of your license plate will be taken and you will get a bill in the mail,” Schwartz continued. “There will be no slow downs and no tollbooths. You won’t even notice it.”

Schwartz explained further why the plan would aid Brooklyn.

“Brooklyn is a very transit-oriented borough,” said Schwartz. “Half of the households in Brooklyn don’t even have cars. Well over 90 percent are not taking cars into Manhattan, and so for the most part, Brooklynites will see improvements in their transit system.

“[Brooklynites] will see fewer vehicles on local roads near highways where drivers jump off the highways to take local streets,” Schwartz continued. “For example, the Williamsburg Bridge will be less crowded because people can stay on the Midtown Tunnel or the Long Island Expressway.”  

Schwartz also discussed other benefits.

“The Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge will be less crowded because people can stay with the Battery Tunnel and no longer try to leave the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to go through Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Boreum Hill and Brooklyn Heights to try and get to a toll-free bridge,” said Schwartz.  

“Fort Greene and Flatbush Avenue should see some traffic relief as well,” Schwartz continued.

The traffic guru expressed potential employment opportunities for Brooklynites through the project.

“[The plan] also opens up a lot of job opportunities for Brooklynites that now find that the very hefty toll at the Verrazano Bridge keeps them from jobs in Staten Island,” said Schwartz. “The program will reduce that toll on the Verrazano Bridge by 40 to 50 percent.

“This is a big win for Brooklyn.”

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