Twenty-one years after one-way tolling began on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the toll bays on the Brooklyn-bound side of the span will finally be removed.
In six more years, that is.
A wide array of Staten Island, Brooklyn, borough, city and state officials were on hand last Thursday when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled its plan to not only remove the 12 unused — and dangerous — gates on the Staten Island side of the bridge, but to fix the 40-year-old toll plaza’s approach ramps, road surface, and existing booths.
“Think of this as a blank slate,” said MTA Executive Director Lee Sander.
Sander said the quasi-public state agency would begin working with the state Department of Transportation to design the new improvements this year. Construction is not expected to begin until 2010, and the work will not be finished until 2014 — at the earliest, officials said.
It’s unclear what the project will cost.
“Until we see a design, we shouldn’t be guessing on the costs,” said MTA Chief Engineer Tom Bach.
The eastbound booths have been unused since 1986, when one-way toll collection began on the then–22-year-old bridge.
Since then, the lanes have been the bane of Brooklyn-bound drivers, who have to slow down from highway speeds, maneuver through the unused toll booths, and then re-accelerate and merge back into four lanes.
The improvements come on the heels of an announcement last month that the MTA would create a new carpool lane on the Gowanus Expressway from 65th Street to 92nd Street to reduce commute times.