BY MICHAEL RICONDA
NYACK – Hoping to alleviate anticipated toll hikes which are expected to follow the construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, State Sen. David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Ossining) publicly announced a four point plan for toll relief at Nyack’s Memorial Park on Tuesday.
The toll controls include a 60 percent resident discount for Rockland and Westchester County residents and a personal income tax credit for commuters. The proposed tax credit would save $250 for single filers and $500 for joint filers.
Also included in the plan are new items of legislation which will introduce vehicle registration suspensions and criminal charges for chronic toll evaders and service consolidations to streamline cooperation between the New York State Thruway Authority and the Bridge Authority.
Carlucci argued the plan would raise money for the new bridge and alleviate the burden of heavy tolls, which he stated could inhibit business and tourism. In contrast, he argued higher tolls could precipitate an “economic disaster” for riverfront areas of Rockland and Westchester.
“We can have a beautiful, shiny bridge, but if we can’t afford to cross it, it will be devastating to our economy here in the Hudson Valley,” Carlucci said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, who visited Rockland last week, has remained tight-lipped about toll estimates, citing a lack of final determining factors such as cost of construction and contingencies. Though Cuomo has stressed that he intends to keep tolls as low as possible, some commentators suggest bridge tolls could go as high as $14.
Nyack Mayor Jen White, who was present at the announcement, agreed with Carlucci’s assessment, arguing that a lack of offset for higher tolls “would be devastating.” White argued that Nyack, as a riverfront community that serves as a transit hub for drivers, faces a higher impact from toll hikes.
“We have no viable public transit, the bridge right now doesn’t include any transit, and until we have that transit system in place and some way for people to get to work other than in their cars, a high toll is going to kill peoples’ ability to get to work and kill peoples’ ability to come visit us,” White stated.
Nyack resident Annie Hekker-Weiss also spoke, detailing her experiences with public transit and arguing higher tolls would substantially change the character and livability of Nyack.
“Any help would be much welcomed on this side of the river,” Hekker-Weiss said. “We want to keep people on this side of the river and keep this the vibrant, wonderful village that it was 30 years ago and hopefully will continue to be.”