Last week the Thruway Authority announced the formation of a Toll Advisory Panel to review toll rates, potential resident and commuter discount programs and commercial vehicle rates over the Tappan Zee Bridge. I have expressed concern for how the new bridge will be funded for years now, stating that it cannot be done on the backs of Rockland residents who have very few viable options other than driving.
The cost for the new bridge must be shared by all, just as the revenue the old bridge generated for decades went to support the entire Thruway system. In fact, much of that toll revenue was wasted away in paying off the debt associated with the Thruway’s takeover of the Canal Authority decades ago. Those funds, had they not been used to plug the financial hole of another State Authority, could be used now to pay for this bridge and hold down tolls.
Rockland County residents must not be held financially responsible for the poor fiscal management of our State’s past, nor should they foot the bill for a project that should have been the Thruway Authority’s responsibility in the first place. What it comes down to is this; the Tappan Zee is not a regional bridge and should not be compared with city crossings like the George Washington Bridge. If anything, it should be compared to the only other bridge connecting Rockland and Westchester Counties; the Bear Mountain.
Let me be clear; any increased toll for the new bridge MUST include a significantly reduced toll rate for Rockland residents – a discount well beyond the discount that will be provided for all commuters via E-ZPass. With the looming congestion pricing proposal, Rocklanders will be doubly impacted by tolls without deep discounts or exemptions from those zone crossings – items for which I have also advocated.
I will be submitting these concerns and supporting information to the Panel and I invite you all to do the same by sharing your thoughts and opinions with them via email at: TollAdvisoryPanel@thruway.ny.gov
We need to make our voices heard; that is the only way to convince the Panel of the necessity of a significant resident discount plan. Putting obstacles like an expensive toll in the way of attracting people to Rockland County would have a wide-ranging negative economic impact. Rockland needs this bridge to remain affordable, so we can continue to build the bright future we all deserve.