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Brooklynites demand return of two-way-Verrazano Bridge toll

For whom the bridge tolls: Brooklynites demand two-way fee on VZ — to keep New Jersey out

Toll-y Moly!: The Verrazano-Narrow Bridge is beautiful — and expensive!
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They want to build a wall — and make New Jersey pay for it!

The Feds must once again charge Brooklyn-bound drivers traversing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge its famously exorbitant toll when a cashless collection system is put in place this summer — if only to ensure New Jersey commuters stay off Brooklyn streets, a Park Slope panel demanded this week.

Community Board 6’s district manager says that Jerseyites have for too long been clogging up Brooklyn highways and byways while en route to Manhattan, spewing exhaust and littering the streets thanks to a two-decade old law that allowed them free passage into the borough via the city’s longest span.

“What is left now is an economic-biased travel decision which favors the ‘free’ flow of traffic from Staten Island to Brooklyn which passes through our district especially during the morning rush hour,” wrote Community Board 6 district manager Craig Hammerman in a letter to Gov. Cuomo. “Our highways are regularly congested.”

The current one-way toll for Staten Island-bound traffic dates back to 1986 when Islanders, claiming idling cars waiting to pay the Brooklyn-bound toll were causing too much pollution, convinced Congress to pass a law demanding the once-two-way toll be collected only when vehicles came to the Rock. That gave New Jersey drivers the ability to leap-frog into Manhattan through Staten Island and Brooklyn for free, bypassing the Verrazano toll by circling to the Holland tunnel when they head home to Monmouth County.

But this summer, the Verrazano is getting a cashless toll system — where cameras record license plates as drivers zoom by — making concerns about booth-induced smog a thing of the past, and creating an opportunity to start hitting Jersey drivers where it hurts, Hammerman argues.

It is a change people down in Bay Ridge have been demanding for years, according to local leaders.

“CB10 has consistently in the past few years voted in support of restoring two way tolls,” said Community Board 10 district manager Josephine Beckmann. “We have backups at every single exit ramp in the morning.”

But Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge), who also represents all of Staten Island, vowed to oppose any measure to restore the two-way toll until he’s seen data proving that the change would decrease traffic and increase revenue, according to spokesman Patrick Ryan.

CB6’s letter to the governor requested a study to determine the effect of a two-way toll, but until then, the change will be a tough sell to Staten Island voters, according to Ryan.

“I think that with any constituency when you propose changing something that’s been in effect 30 years, all these theories come up that it’s going to be worse because of X-Y-Z,” Ryan said. “But if you can say ‘We’re going to get X amount of revenue we can use for this project,’ that makes it easier to discuss.”

Rep. and Trumpbuster Jerry Nadler (D–Gowanus), meanwhile, has been a longtime supporter of the two-way toll, but came under fire from constituents after he failed to bring back the two-way toll when the House and Senate were controlled by Democrats during the early years of Obama’s first term, according to one activist.

“The Dems had a veto-proof Congress and Nadler failed to do what he had promised his constituen­ts,” said Carl Rosenstein, a Manhattanite who created a group called Trees Not Trucks to combat commercial trucking traffic caused by the one-way toll.

But ramming the change through Congress is more difficult than it seems, because it needs to be tacked onto more substantial transportation legislation, which didn’t materialize during the two-year window, according to Nadler’s district director Robert Gottheim.

But with the new toll technology and President Trump championing new highway infrastructure programs, Nadler sees both the will and a way to realize a two-way toll on the Verrazano on the horizon, Gottheim said.

“Looking forward, there’s a strong chance this can be done,” he said.

Cuomo’s office did not return requests for comment.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 5:06 pm, February 7, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Bozo The Clown from Court Street says:
If you want to keep NJ out just build a Wall and get NJ to pay for it.
Feb. 7, 2017, 3:50 am
Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, US says:
Well, it could be a very long battle because this is a federal issue since the MTA was created in 1968: The only major asset that has ties to congress, thanks to Robert Moses.
Feb. 7, 2017, 7:11 am
Sergey from South Brooklyn says:
WWWAAH! Where's my parental subsidy check and juice box?
Feb. 7, 2017, 11:20 am
Tyler from pps says:
What?

But Rep. Dan Donovan (R–Bay Ridge), who also represents all of Staten Island, vowed to oppose any measure to restore the two-way toll until he’s seen data proving that the change would decrease traffic and increase revenue, according to spokesman Patrick Ryan.

Since there's no booths, the purpose of the one-way tolling is gone. And even if it doesn't *increase* revenue, it gets rid of the counter-clockwise commute option (which would at least reduce the wear and tear on our roads city-funded roads from unnecessary mileage).

So, I guess Dan Donovan is the Dov Hikind of Staten Island? (i.e., If he's against something, there's a 90% chance it's the right thing to do.)

By the way -- "But ramming the change through Congress is more difficult than it seems, because it needs to be tacked onto more substantial transportation legislation" -- is false and stupid. This is half the problem of Congress. You can't even have a 'clean bill' when it's basically a revenue-neutral, operational matter. I guess we can't change the tolling *method* without, say, trading that for a no-bid contract for a Republican's district in Nebraska.
Feb. 7, 2017, 11:49 am
Tyler from pps says:
Sorry -- I mean Dan Donovan is the Dov Hikind of Bay Ridge. Bay Ridge, Staten Island... too many similarities, I get confused.
Feb. 7, 2017, 11:51 am
Bill from Staten Island says:
Did u forget it cost NJ drivers $15 to get INTO Staten Island?
Feb. 7, 2017, 3:12 pm
Tommy from Staten Island says:
Exactly Bill! And they could do the same and charge both ways as well and then everybody loses.... really!!!!
Feb. 7, 2017, 3:28 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I don't see how placing a two way toll help keeps out NJ in this case. If anything, the entire tolls should be abolished after serving their purpose. Using the tolls for revenue purposes just makes them increase even when not needing while making them feel regressive for those who can't afford them, which is why most of those living in the outer boroughs and suburbs oppose the Move NY Plan no matter how much Transportation Alternatives tries to claim that with their biased poll knowing that it was mostly their supporters who voted on it.
Feb. 7, 2017, 4:08 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I agree with Tyler. There is no justification for one way tolls once cashless tolling is in place. You want to drive from Elizabeth NJ to the city? There are a couple of perfectly good tunnels to use that are more direct than going through Staten Island and Brooklyn. Not to mention all the NJ commuters that park in Brooklyn, then jump on the subway.
Feb. 8, 2017, 11:17 am
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
New Jersey should annex Staten Island
Feb. 8, 2017, 1:40 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Henry, many NJ Transit stations have park and rides. They can just park their cars there and ride the train in. This is very common for a lot suburban commuter train stations. However, some may not be using them at peak hours which is when they are sporadic, so they end up driving to get around sooner, but this is just a guess here. Nevertheless, I still think all tolls should be removed especially if the bonds they were used to pay off are done rather than stay as a revenue source. Believe or not, I have encountered a lot more traffic on the toll crossings rather than on the so-called free crossings, and this is from my experience of using both the Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges when I used them going to and from my college over at Dowling College, located in Oakdale, NY, plus it's been even like that numerous times when going to Mets games or even to either of the airports. More importantly, cashless tolls could be a problem for those who don't have an EZ Pass like I do.
Feb. 8, 2017, 5:07 pm
Joe from Greenpoint says:
"MJ from Bay Ridge says:
New Jersey should annex Staten Island"

Staten Island is ethnically NJ anyway, and most residents speak NJ as their first language.
Feb. 9, 2017, 6:05 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Bill -- The Goethals, Bayonne and Outerbridge Crossing are actually only $6.25 if you enroll in the Port Authority "Staten Island Plan" for your EZPass.
Feb. 10, 2017, 12:08 pm

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