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February 27, 2009 / Brooklyn news / Marty vs. Tolls

Shelly’s bridge toll plan divides Brooklyn

Gorgeous bridge. But how would you like it with tolls?
The Brooklyn Paper
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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s call for $2 tolls on the East River bridges is already dividing neighbor from neighbor — and pol from pol — in Brooklyn.

The plan to charge drivers for crossing the currently free East River spans is part of Silver’s scheme, revealed last Wednesday, that also calls for a downstate payroll tax increase to alleviate the chronic budget shortages of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and avoid steep fare hikes on subways and busses.

In December, a state commission had recommended even higher tolls — plus fare increases — to help shore up the embattled authority.

Borough President Markowitz, whose domain includes the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, denounced Silver’s initiative, much like he has with other attempts to put tolls on the viaducts.

“I have always maintained these tolls are discriminatory, impractical and impose an unfair ‘tax’ on Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx,” the Beep, who like Silver is a Democrat, said in a statement.

Markowitz suggested other solutions, such as hiking the gasoline tax or re-enacting the commuter tax, to raise money for the MTA, which says it is facing a $3.4-billion budget gap and must raise fares.

Markowitz’s views are strongly echoed in neighborhoods like Bay Ridge, which have fewer mass transit options and longer commutes than the more congested neighborhoods like Park Slope and Brooklyn Heights.

But in the Brownstone Belt, where there was wider support last year for Mayor Bloomberg’s failed congestion pricing plan that would have charged Brooklyn and Queens motorists for entering Gaphattan, Silver’s toll goal renewed hopes that traffic might be reduced and mass transit would get a boost from the new revenue stream.

”It’s not a question of slapping a penalty on people in the outlying areas,” said Michael Cairl, a transportation wonk on the Park Slope Civic Council, which backed bridge tolls earlier this month. “It could bring about some immediate benefits.”

But tolled bridges could create a new set of harrying problems, such as traffic gridlock at their entrances.

The state commission anticipated this aggravation by recommending the installation of unmanned tolls that allow drivers to pass through at higher speeds.

Transit rider groups also approved of Silver’s plan, which faces opposition from other Democrats in the legislature.

”His plan is very good news for eight million daily subway and bus riders and suburban commuters,” said a statement from the Straphangers Campaign.

The group described the Silver model as “a compromise plan to prevent whopping subway, bus and commuter fare increases and devastating service cuts.”

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Reader Feedback

Joe N. from Carroll Gardens says:

Anyone for more tolls, just doesn't know or care about Brooklyn or Queens, at the very least. Tolling the East River Bridges is beyond aggravating and the height of Manhattan centric policy -- combined with an awful sense of carelessness about what life is, in Brooklyn. In fact, our City and State should have heat turned on everyone that's draining $10 from anyone driving across the Verrazano as it is... This is is complex, but what is apparent is that there's no leadership, innovation nor understanding across the MTA and throughout political circles. At what point does anyone ask & require the MTA to manage itself -- watch costs & contractors (Jay St./Borough Hall renov. has gone on now for how many years?) and lop off 100s of executives, as they require union givebacks. Do we need robo-trains? Even in the BEST of times, no one cleans the Canal St. platforms, there's 1-2 trash pails in entire stations (trash easily finds it way to the tracks). In fact, there's been nothing done by way of thought for decades aside from new tiles (in Manhattan again, predominantly).
Feb. 27, 2009, 2:05 am
Ernst S B from Gowanus says:
Anyone not for tolls, just doesn't know or care about Brooklyn or Queens, at the very least. Tolling the East River Bridges is entirely sensible and the height of sustainable policy -- combined with an wonderful sense of about what life is, in Brooklyn.
Feb. 27, 2009, 6:57 am
Pat from Bay Ridge says:
More than 50% of families in Bay Ridge don't own a car, so don't go labeling us as "strongly supportive of Markowitz" without looking at the evidence. Bay Ridgers might also want to consider the massive cuts that are in store for us if something isn't done: the 3rd avenue bus eliminated, big cuts on most of the other routes, longer waits for the R train. Yes it's entirely appropriate to put pressure on the MTA to cut costs and be honest about their finances but in the meantime these cuts (and at least a 23% fare increase) are real and they're going to affect a whole lot more people than the 5% or so of Brooklynites who commute to Manhattan by car.
Feb. 27, 2009, 9:47 am
Charles from Bklyn says:
This is not going to happen, as Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and several other counties that will be greatly impacted are against this toll plan. All the politicians know that to vote yes on this would be the end of their careers. Too bad Manhattan, we out-number your representatives on this issue.
Feb. 27, 2009, 10:34 am
Vinny Boom Bots from Bensonhurst says:
Figas them yuppie dopes in the Slope would wanna put tolls on da bridges.

These ——s should go back to Ohio and Iowa where they're from. They don't get what it means to be a Brooklynite.
Feb. 27, 2009, 10:41 am
Eric from Park Slope says:
"What it means to be a Brooklynite" more often than not means not owning a car. As Pat from Bay Ridge rightly points out, far more Brooklynites commute via mass transit than by automobile. It's time for those drivers to contribute their fair share, rather than to increase the "unfair tax" on transit riders.
Feb. 27, 2009, 10:58 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
I thuroughly agree with Pat.
Many assumptions are being made about what people in the different neighborhoods think, but as a life-long bay ridger I am totally for the tolls.
They serve a practical purpose and are of a reasonable size. Furthermore if they discourage car traffic, that can only be a plus for the city. A small fee can encourage people to avoid unneccssary car trips.
Feb. 27, 2009, 11:07 am
h. wolf from sheepshead bay says:
I would prefer the $8. Fee.
Feb. 27, 2009, 5:33 pm
teegee from sunset park says:
brooklyn isn't divided any more than before. mass transit reps of course support the plan, drivers and people in brooklyn communities that would be negatively impacted are against it. nothing has changed, except, silver, like the consumate politician figures he can slip it in at $2 and then raise it year by year. just another slap in the face by "our" government representatives. for examples, look at the state lottery meant to provide money for seniors and education, or the water tax that grows in leaps and bounds, or better my real estate tax this year - it lists my house value as having gone down, but increases the assessed value and increases the tax rate - so my taxes go up.....it is time for gov't reform
Feb. 27, 2009, 5:52 pm
D from Brooklyn says:
Why in the world should I have to pay a $4/day to get across the East River via subway but Vinny can drive his blinged out SUV across the bridge for free? That makes no sense.

If you want to live in a place where it's cheap and convenient to drive everywhere then move your auto-dependent butt to Ohio or New Jersey where you belong. We're going to toll the East River Bridges and make sure that our mass transit system stays functional. Real New Yorkers ride the subway, walk and bike. You, driving down my street, blasting your horn, polluting my kids' air, running over people in my neighborhood once a week: You are the scourge of this city. You are not a real New Yorker in your car. We hate you.
Feb. 27, 2009, 7:35 pm
Niccolo from Carrol Gardens says:
There is another self-interest factor that the Markowitz supporters fail to calculate. The MTA presently controls the tolls on the TBTA bridges, those tolls will not have to be raised as high as they otherwise would because the MTA now has another source of revenue. Without tolls on the East River Bridges the existing TBTA tolls would have to go up more, pushing even more people into shopping for "free" bridges over the East River by flocking to the streets of my neighborhood three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening, clogging up our streets and air. Transportation is a complex subject, drink deep please, I'm tired of all the cars from Jersey on my block every morning.
Feb. 27, 2009, 10:34 pm
monte from marine park says:
Just raise the subway fare and let the subway riders bailout the idiots from the MTA Car owners subsidize the MTA too much already.

Don't drive out the middle class. If the welfare and lower middle class and the seniors can't afford it or don't want to pay the increase let them mobe to Iowa Ohio or Florida
Feb. 28, 2009, 1:26 pm
monte from marine park says:
Just raise the subway fare and let the subway riders bailout the idiots from the MTA Car owners subsidize the MTA too much already.

Don't drive out the middle class. If the welfare, lower middle class and the seniors can't afford it or don't want to pay the increase let them move to Iowa Ohio or Florida
Feb. 28, 2009, 1:27 pm
al pankin from downtown says:
why should residents who live in the outer boro's pay tolls to go over bridges that our tax money has paid for thouands of times over already. once they start charging tolls they will only go up every time they give a raise and pension increase to city workers. maybe a forty hour work week would be a good place to start raising revenue. next thing they will think of is to start charging the pedestrians to walk over the bridges. the state and city should cut expenses, not raise taxes. it's tough times.
Feb. 28, 2009, 6:06 pm
Eddie from BKNY says:
Pat from Bay Ridge says: "More than 50% of families in Bay Ridge don't own a car"

Can you identify the source of that info?
'More than 50%' of Brooklynites don't own a car - but that's not necessarily synonymous with 'more than 50%' of Bay Ridgers.
Feb. 28, 2009, 11:49 pm
Eddie from BKNY says:
monte from marine park says: "Don't drive out the middle class. If the welfare, lower middle class and the seniors can't afford it or don't want to pay the increase let them move to Iowa Ohio or Florida"

That comment wins the Advanced Stupidity Award.
Feb. 28, 2009, 11:54 pm
Pacholo from Red Hook says:
Hsshole politicians must be voted out of office if they even suggest tolls for bridges that New Yawkers have birth rights to. As for Monte, he's excluding himself with his comment.He's flat broke. Sounds like he's from Iowa and wants my rent controlled apt. for him and his roomie.
March 1, 2009, 12:57 am
Alvin from Marine Park says:
Car-huggers, seriously, it's time to finally move to Upstate (aka the Boondocks) or Lawn Guyland (Levittown, the OG suburb y'all) or New Joyzee (Tony-Sopranoland) or wherever the heck post-war Brooklyn expatriates go to in order to drive to the strip mall whilst pining—as Ned Flanders would say—for the America of Yesteryear, that only exists in the brains of knuckle-dragging conservatives.

And I am a 25 year long resident of southern Brooklyn "neighborhoods like Bay Ridge".
March 1, 2009, 5:13 pm
monte from marine park says:
Eddie - You pay for your transportation and I will pay for mine and NOT YOURS!!!

Pacholo pay the fair market value for your own housing instead of making other people pay for your rent controlled or should I say welfare apartment.

Alvin - You think all that marine Park nightlife is better than the boonies? You must go to the Mariners
March 2, 2009, 7:54 pm
Boris from Bay Ridge says:
How are tolls "Manhattan centric"? Wouldn't having tolls translate into fewer trips to Manhattan?

When I'm in a rush I take the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel instead of stand in traffic to get to the Brooklyn Bridge. But when I make it over to Manhattan there's traffic again due to all the freeloaders who took the free bridges. When all the crossings are tolled, there will be less traffic and we'll actually get to where we are going faster. The pros of tolling the bridges far outweigh the cons.
March 3, 2009, 12:37 pm
Jason Armes from South Philly,PA says:
Tolls will go on Brooklyn,Manhattan,Williamsburg and Queensborough Bridges will have E-Z Pass and Tolls with Toll Collectors will do Brooklyn,Manhattan,Williamsburg and Queensboro Bridge will no longer have Free Bridge anymore.

Jason Armes
Oct. 18, 2009, 8:35 am

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