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MTA moves ahead to get rid of Verrazano’s phantom toll booths

The Brooklyn Paper

One of the most frustrating ways to get into the borough is one step closer to being fixed, now that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has hired a contractor to remove the phantom toll booths on the Brooklyn-bound side of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Even though one-way tolling was instituted in 1986 — giving drivers a free ride into the Borough of Kings — unmanned toll booths have remained, forcing drivers to slow from highway speeds, slide through the booths and then re-accelerate as they make their way back to the promised land on the east side of the Narrows.

The $2.5-million project kicks off in spring.

“This work is really going to change the traffic flow,” MTA spokeswoman Joyce Mulvaney said — and she means it in a good way.

The removal of most of the booths, which should be done by early 2011, is just the first step of a four-year project that will shift lanes, remove the remaining Brooklyn-bound toll booths, and build new connector ramps to and from the bridge to correct traffic problems.

“When you’re pulling stuff out of the ground, it’s going to take some time,” Mulvaney said.

The work is the most significant change to the toll plaza since the lower level of the bridge opened in 1969.

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Reader Feedback

Mike Curatore from Columbia Street says:
So if they pull out the booths then we can kiss goodbye any chance of restoring a 2-way toll on the Verrazano, right? Brooklyn's getting royally screwed here folks.
Feb. 12, 2010, 1:07 pm
Kai B from Greenpoint says:
All new toll installations in the future will likely be E-Z Pass readers, or, for those without one, cameras that will send you a bill. That's what was planned for the failed East River tolling plan.
Feb. 12, 2010, 7:28 pm
Scott from Shaolin says:
V-Z tolls should be boothless, and two-way.

It's better fir everyone.

The one-way toll, at one time a good idea, is obsolete.
Feb. 12, 2010, 9 pm
Brooklyn Nets from Bay Ridge says:
Hurry up and get rid of the booths before the MTA decides to charge $11 each way on the VZ.
Feb. 14, 2010, 11:16 am
Hal from Canarsie says:
My only comments would be what have they been doing with the toll money for that last 24 years that they haven't funded their removal and the the last 41 years that this is the "most significant" work since opening the lower level?
Feb. 15, 2010, 1:39 pm
Joe Nardiello from Carroll Gardens says:
Well, since it makes no sense for matters of 1) expense, 2) security and 3) priority -- I can see why the MTA has made up its mind to remove the tolls booths! (Maybe there's a top official or someone likewise connected, like at the UFT for all its members tiring of slowing down, while driving to work from New Jersey, right?)

Expense? First, would it cost millions to remove these? Who is watching the store at the MTA? Clearly, people are growing numb to what $1 million actually is - and how many fares/tolls it takes to get that amount -- but, is this the best way for the MTA to expend yet another $2-3 million in Year 3 of the 'great recession' -- after leaving them there for decades..? Why not apply/wait for Federal money for this, if not delay until the MTA rights itself. If DOT meaning us/taxpayers is paying for Bus Shelters already -- why not have the DOT simply do this, too and keep the work within NYC and not paid to who knows which contractor? (..Imagine if our local elected officials actually were required by us to investigate, and call-out specific supervisors for their decisions?)

Security? Didn't these tolls prove useful, post 9/11? This may seem like a smaller issue now to commuting drivers with short-term memory loss -- but where's the intelligence over removing something that obviously came in handy, post 9/11 to review which vehicles that without them, would simply speed on through? Doesn't their existence help 'calm' traffic by slowing them to make better choices for which bridge lanes they'll take (vs. criss-crossing at high speeds?). Or, is painting new lanes another multi-million DOT project/expense to come?

Priority? With that amount of $, you can (maybe) pay 1-2 MTA honchos' salaries for a year - plus their carfare, home housing stipends and lunches/dinners. Why spend it on this? Not only are bus lines being threatened with elimination (outrageously decided by people unfamiliar with their necessity).. but students/parents must pay full-fare, Access-a-ride faces reductions, etc.

Unless.. once the tolls are out, then there's 'no alternative' but to add some more tolls promptly on the East River bridges? Maybe this is part of the MTA master-plan vs. drivers who actually choose to live in Brooklyn.
Feb. 16, 2010, 12:33 pm
paperbackwriter from Park Slope says:
Kings isn't a borough; it's a county. Brooklyn is the borough and is coterminous with Kings County.
Feb. 17, 2010, 1:30 pm
Mort from Yellow Hook says:
How about adding the pedestrian/bicycle walkways that were in the original design?

Or, how about closing the top or bottom and allowing pedestrians to walk across on some occasional Sunday mornings?
Feb. 18, 2010, 12:05 pm

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