April 30, 2015 By Michael Florio
Several Queens law makers are opposed to a proposal that calls for charging commuters a toll for crossing the Queensboro Bridge—calling it “fundamentally unfair.”
The proposal, put forward by the lobby group Move NY in February, calls for motorists who use the free bridge to pay $5.54 each way (E-ZPass)–or $8.
Move NY, a group comprised of planners and traffic experts, claims that the toll would reduce traffic congestion in the Queens Plaza area as fewer drivers would use the bridge.
Furthermore, Move NY argues that the tolls generated at the Queensboro Bridge—and three other free bridges in the city (the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges) would lead to a $2.50 each-way reduction of tolls elsewhere—such as at the Triborough-RFK Bridge. They also argue it would raise about $1.5 billion each year for the MTA.
However, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and other Queens officials issued a joint statement earlier this week denouncing the plan.
“It is fundamentally unfair to charge residents a fee to travel within one city,” according to the statement. Furthermore, “the proposal tolls all routes from Queens to Manhattan.”
Move NY, however, claims the proposal would make the system fairer since it would lower the tolls on five of the six bridges in Queens—including the Triborough Bridge.
“Katz wants to preserve a system where some Queens drivers pay through the nose to cross the bridges they use while others pay nothing,” according to a Move NY statement.
Katz and other Queens lawmakers also reject Move NY’s claim that the proposed plan would generate $1.5 billion in revenue each year that would go toward maintaining, expanding and modernizing the MTA system.
“Without any direct connection between the revenues generated from the proposed tolls to those very improvements, there is simply no guarantee that this proposal will actually yield anything.”
However, Move NY argues that “the Katz solution is to starve the transit system of funding so under-served neighborhoods won’t get new service.”
Along with Katz, the joint statement was issued by State Senators Joseph Addabbo, Tony Avella, Leroy Comrie, Toby Stavisky; Assembly members Jeffrion Aubry, Barbara Clark, Vivian Cook, Phillip Goldfeder, Ronald Kim, Michael Miller, Michael Simanowitz, Michele Titus, David Weprin; Councilmembers Karen Koslowitz, Rory Lancman, I. Daneek Miller, Paul Vallone and Ruben Wills.
For the plan to go into effect, state legislators would have to pass the proposal.