TZ TOLLS COULD EXCEED $15 BY TIME BRIDGE IS BUILT

In recent months there has been substantial discussion about some aspects of the Tappan Zee Bridge plan: mass transit on the bridge, the possibility of having a Tappanbridge park, and train station at the bridge are some issues that have received some attention. There is another issue that deserves more public discussion and attention: how much is it going to cost Westchester and Rockland residents to cross the bridge?

The executive director of the NYS Thruway Authority has estimated that tolls on the new bridge will be similar to those of other Hudson crossings. Current cash tolls at the George Washington Bridge are $12, with E-ZPass, $9.50 peak hours (6-10 a.m., 4-8 p.m.: Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.) and $7.50 off-peak. Note almost the whole weekend is peak toll! These tolls are already being considered for increases again. By 2017, when the bridge is built, the tolls will be much more.

We need to protect Westchester and Rockland residents from bearing the full brunt of this cost as this structure is a lifeline for the ENTIRE State of New York- not just Westchester and Rockland Counties! During 9/11, it was the only way supplies made it in to NYC from Stewart Airport! Both counties need reasonable access cross the bridge for work, shopping, recreation and family, which an unreasonably high toll would prohibit. It would also have a negative impact on the economies of both counties. Clearly, legislation is needed to protect the residents of both counties from unreasonable tolls.

Our state lawmakers need to address this. We need legislation similar to the provisions in Buffalo. Buffalo lawmakers were successful in getting the state and Thruway Authority to agree to special toll arrangements – a residential rate for Westchester/Rockland residents. In Buffalo the Thruway Authority allows residents who cross the Grand Island Bridge to pay only 9 cents to cross the bridge vs. $1 for everyone else. Why should the state allow residency discounts only for Buffalo commuters? If residency discounts are allowed in Buffalo they should also be offered to commuters who cross the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Paul Feiner

Greenburgh Town Supervisor