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If Sal Albanese were mayor, he’d…

Put a toll on the East River Bridges

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Is it a bridge toll too far?

Hizzoner hopefuls Sal Albanese, Anthony Weiner, and John Liu sparred at an Aug. 22 Democratic debate over the controversial idea of charging a toll on the bridges over the East River.

Albanese argued that levying a fee of $2 or $3 on motorists using the iconic spans linking Brooklyn and Queens to Manhattan — a proposal Mayor Bloomberg failed to sell in 2006 and 2008 — is necessary to lower the $15 toll imposed on the Verrazano Bridge, the highest in the nation. The former Bay Ridge city councilman pointed out that northern Brooklynites living near the three cross-river bridges enjoy numerous trains and buses. Meanwhile, residents in the southern end of the borough and in Staten Island have only a few.

“You want to have tolls where there are more mass transit options, and lower tolls where there are less,” said Albanese. “It’s only fair.”

Weiner jumped on Albanese’s remarks, calling him a Bloomberg clone and accusing him of selling out the people of his home borough.

“I’m against the Bloomberg plan for tolls on bridges, I’m against the Albanese plan for tolls on bridges,” the said the former congressman and city councilman from Sheepshead Bay. “We should not tax people from Brooklyn to go to Manhattan.”

Liu used the opportunity to pitch his own plan — placing a toll on the bridges exclusively for people coming from outside the five boroughs.

“Only non-residents of New York City would have to pay,” the city comptroller said.

Albanese immediately questioned the plan’s plausibility.

“Impossible to enforce,” the rival contender shot back.

But Liu suggested that his plan could use EZ-Pass stickers like the ones Rockaway residents use to receive a discount on the Cross Bay Bridge — or, possibly, a kind of license plate scanner.

“The mechanisms are already in place,” Liu said.

But Albanese still disputed the proposal’s feasibility, noting the number of city residents with out-of-state plates, and pointing out that a plan utilizing EZ-Pass or license plate registrations would have to combine city and state computer systems.

“It sounds good, but it doesn’t make sense,” Albanese said.

The National Restaurant in Brighton Beach hosted the debate, and Russian-language Davidzon Radio and Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny (D–Coney Island) organized it. Nearly the entire slate of candidates present — which included Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, the Reverend Erick Salgado, and former comptroller Bill Thompson — vowed to appoint a Russian-American to a prominent cabinet post, except for Weiner. He said that he didn’t believe in ethnic quotas, but noted that his grandfather was born in Russia.

“So, you would have someone from the Russian-American community in the highest levels of government, if I am elected,” Weiner said.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at wbredderman@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him attwitter.com/WillBredderman.

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Reader Feedback

Rob from Greenpoint says:
Yes! Tolls are on the East River bridges are desperately needed. Sure, lower the toll on the Verrazano in exchange.
Aug. 26, 2013, 7:31 am
ty from pps says:
WAIT?!

Is Albanese suggesting that residents with the *illegal* out-of-state plates is something we need to care about?! We need to make sure these insurance fraudsters are given special privileges?
Aug. 26, 2013, 8:09 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
And no vehicle waiting to pay a toll has EVER caused pollution. . . oh wait that's another column.
Aug. 26, 2013, 8:23 am
ty from pps says:
Or,
What part of E-Z Pass and license plate readers couldn't your tiny little head comprehend? Modern cities don't use cash collection booths.
Aug. 26, 2013, 9:48 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Proof that Ty has never been out of the city, or off his bike to see the weekend toll lines of those without easy pass.

The road to Utopia!
Aug. 26, 2013, 9:58 am
ty from pps says:
Or,
The line-ups at the bridges and tunnels are caused by OUTDATED technology (i.e., toll booths that take cash). What part of my comment was so difficult to understand?

I'll repeat. Modern cities don't use cash collection booths.
Aug. 26, 2013, 10:48 am
Bada Man from Bath Beach says:
There should be no tolls to travel within NYC for NYC residents!
Aug. 26, 2013, 3:33 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Just like before, this idea will be defeated again. It's just another way to nickle and dime the hard working who can't afford to live anywhere near mass transit and must drive just to get around faster. These bridges are already paid for via taxes for infrastructure, so in a way, we motorists are already paying to use them. The original purpose of the tolls was to pay off whatever they were placed on and by removed later on, not by used as a revenue service that will only make it more despite not going where it should go. I'm glad that Weiner is against this as he was against congestion pricing in the past, and he would win my vote if I was living in NYC. Meanwhile, Liu is just presenting just another version of the commuter tax, which was fought hard against to remove especially when so many people working in the city couldn't afford to live there thanks to waves of gentrification. Overall, vote for Weiner if you don't want this elitist and regressive movement, because he cares about the hard working.
Aug. 26, 2013, 3:51 pm
ty from pps says:
Thank you, Tal. I really appreciate your amazing commentary.
Aug. 26, 2013, 5:05 pm
Jay from NYC says:
Wasn't this already covered? And Liu's proposal has been stuck down by the courts. Sheeesh.
What, is that Van Halen I hear on the radio? (remember radio?) Are we back in 1985 or something? WTF?
Aug. 26, 2013, 6:01 pm
John Wasserman from Windsor Terrace says:
Why, I just heard Van Halen on the radio this past Saturday ("I'm in Love with MY Teacher")....Also, I don't want to start trouble, but what you mean is "WTC" when you mention the twin towers. I'm not sure if I understand the statement, but I never said I was a reader of minds. Pardon me.
Aug. 26, 2013, 6:31 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Albanese is an idiot. Weiner is an idiot. Woe are we.

This is truly the first election I've ever paid attention to with 100% fools running. There is not a single candidate worthy of my vote.
Aug. 26, 2013, 10:15 pm
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Looking forward to tolls on the East River bridges! It's a great idea, and trust me, it will happen.
Aug. 27, 2013, 6:27 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
It's a great idea, and trust me, it will happen.

And the revenue will be squandered by the piggies at the trough.
Aug. 27, 2013, 7:11 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The idea for tolling the free East River bridges won't happen. Many outer borough residents and politicians oppose this greatly, and will do everything they can to stop this. As usual, the straphangers want us motorists to foot the bill for transit they don't want to pay for themselves despite the fact that they are using it the most. As for Mike from Williamsburg, I am surprised that he is not supported Bloomberg's lapdog otherwise known as Quinn, because she's probably the closest candidate to Bloomberg.
Aug. 27, 2013, 6:23 pm
Ivan Illych from Deschooled Society says:
Hey ty,

The cash lane at the VZ tool booth is usually the shortest one. The EZ Pass lanes tend to be much longer.

It's like when people with only a few items each enlonage the express lines at a supermarket, while the regular lines are empty. I see it all the time.

Seems ironic, I know. Maybe read some Ivan Illych to appreciate the absurdity of your dear "modern cities".
Aug. 27, 2013, 8:41 pm
ty from pps says:
Ivan --
Just because you're ignorant, doesn't mean I'm wrong.

The toll *booths* are NOT representative of a modern city. The 'congestion zone' in London doesn't have any toll booths. It has electronic readers at the points of entry -- scanning license plates and using a database. There is no stopping for a toll booth.

The modern E-ZPass facilities also do not have booths... they have lanes that you drive FULL HIGHWAY SPEED through -- cash (if even available) is diverted off to the side. The VZ bridge shouldn't have toll booths. It should have full-speed E-ZPass with license plate scanners to catch the "booth jumpers."

I'm talking about fairly old technology here, in place all over the world. Just because you *think* New York is a modern place, doesn't make it true.
Aug. 29, 2013, 9:42 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
". . . The 'congestion zone' in London doesn't have any toll booths."

And not a lot of out of state plates!
Aug. 29, 2013, 10:10 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Speaking of London, congestion pricing isn't doing so well there. As a matter of fact, it's been such a failure, that they are actually backpedaling on it. The western extension that was placed in 2005 after the original plan was failing was recently removed after huge opposition to having it there in the first place. Even Ken Livingstone, who originally pushed for it, tried to win back his seat for mayor against Boris Johnson by saying that he would freeze it for four years, though he still lost anyway. In other words, it wasn't so successful as it was thought to be, and this was the city where it was modeled from. Now, just imagine if it happened in NYC, and much of the same would happen here as it did there. Just remember to look before you leap on this.
Aug. 29, 2013, 5:24 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal, If I thought you understood half of what you just spewed, I'd *maybe* take you seriously. The traffic mitigation accomplished with congestion pricing in London has been a net positive. You read an article that had an opposing voice and WHAMMO! congestion pricing in London is a total failure!

Tal, have you ever thought these articles are written by total fools like you and they can't be trusted?! Hmm? Ever thought that?
Aug. 30, 2013, 12:07 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, as usual, you continue to drink the kool-aide that Bloomberg and his friends are giving you. If you ever bothered to read Stop NYC Congestion Tax, the whole claim on that it was successful in London was found to be false. They lost a lot of small and local businesses because they didn't want to raise their prices just to meet that tax. Even there it was seen as a regressive tax, because those that lived where there wasn't any sufficient transportation made a lot lower incomes than those that lived where they can get around easily without having to drive. If this was passed in NYC, it would have been a lot worse as areas just outside the planned zone that even residents in upper Manhattan opposed being that they would get a lot motorists coming to them. Since you really want a recent source, here is a video from the BBC that was done back in March telling the truth of what congestion pricing really did in London. As for Boris Johnson, he didn't get rid of congestion pricing entirely, he just removed the western extension back in 2010.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz2unML2MQQ
Aug. 30, 2013, 4:22 pm
ty from pps says:
So, the answer to my question is, no? You clearly haven't ever thought that.
Aug. 31, 2013, 12:01 pm

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