New York City

Malliotakis warns of toll beaters in Cuomo bridge plan

Lawmaker says MTA should be on guard against cheaters

October 12, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Toll booths on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge would be eliminated under a plan that was outlined by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week.  Eagle file photo by Rick Buttacavoli
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A plan by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to eliminate toll booths on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and other New York City crossings is winning praise from a lawmaker whose district crosses between Brooklyn and Staten Island.

State Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis said she generally supports Cuomo’s plan to install an automated toll collection system on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

“I’m supportive of any measures that will alleviate traffic and reduce the headaches of travels. Whether on a long trip or a daily commute, almost every New Yorker has experienced the frustration of toll plaza bottlenecks. Using this technology will improve traffic flow and reduce gas emissions,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Malliotakis (R-C-Bay Ridge-Staten Island) warned, however, that she is concerned about the possibility of drivers trying to beat the system. The MTA, the agency that will be implementing the governor’s plan, needs to stay on top of it, she said.

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“With that said, we have had problems with toll beaters in the past and the MTA needs to ensure that this will not increase the risk of losing toll revenue to those who cheat the system,” Malliotakis told the Eagle.

Starting next year, toll booths will be eliminated on the bridges and tunnels operated by MTA Bridges and Tunnels and automated toll collection systems will be put in place.

Currently, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Staten Island, operates under a one-way toll system. Motorists heading westbound (toward Staten Island) pay a toll. Drivers traveling eastbound (toward Brooklyn) ride for free.

Cuomo, who outlined his plan on Oct. 6, said it’s time to re-imagine New York’s river crossings “for a new reality.”

The governor predicted that adopting automated toll collection systems will reduce traffic

Something has to be done about the bridges and tunnels, according to Cuomo. “They are bottlenecks right now. There are security concerns about out tunnels and bridges in this age of terrorist activity and lone wolves. If you look at points of vulnerability, you’ll go to our tunnels and our bridges,” he said in a statement.

The new toll system will be part of an initiative called the New York Crossings Project.

“Our crossings are all across the metropolitan area and we want to improve them in five ways — reduce the traffic, enhance the security, hardening and remediation, conservation and public art,” Cuomo said. 

The goal is to make traffic flow faster, Cuomo said. “We have 800,000 vehicles that go through our tunnels and bridges and drivers can wait up to an hour and 45 minutes every month to pay the tolls. What is the solution? It’s what’s called automatic tolling. No toll plazas. No toll collection. Automatic tolling, vehicles never stop. They go right through the automatic tolling machine and that’s how they pay the toll. It’s very simple,” the governor said.

“We’re projecting it’ll save commuters 21 hours of drive time every year,” Cuomo predicted.

Here’s how the toll will be collected: sensors and cameras that are suspended above the roadway will read the E-ZPass or a license plate. The toll is charged either to the E-ZPass account holder or in the cases where the driver does not have E-ZPass, the bill will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. 

Cuomo claimed that the process will be safer because collisions have been reduced on crossings that have automated toll collection systems. “No more toll booths. No more stopping,” he said.

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