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Aug 15 Mtg To Oppose TZB Toll Hikes

by Paul Feiner

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner is inviting the public to attend a Aug 15 meeting to discuss ways to hold down the projected toll you’ll pay to cross the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge. Closer to home, the Thruway Authority comes to the Nyack Library tonight (8/6) at 6:30p to present the Governor’s plan for a new bridge.

Residents and community leaders who object to the projected toll hikes on the Tappan Zee bridge are invited to an organizing meeting that I will be holding on Wed Aug 15 at 7p at the Greenburgh Town Hall to discuss the formation of a citizens group to lobby for substantial rate reductions for residents of Westchester/Rockland who cross the bridge.

The state is now estimating that tolls on the Tappan Zee bridge could jump to close to $14 in December 2014. Tolls are expected to almost triple from the current amount. There would be discounts for commuters who would pay in the neighborhood of $8.40 to cross the three mile span.

The Tappan Zee Bridge should not be a bridge for only the rich. The projected increases are excessive, especially without bus or mass transit. This will be a tremendous burden for lower income residents of both counties asn well as for seniors and young people. The projected Tappan Zee bridge toll hikes make the bridge unaffordable for many.

In addition to lobbying for mass transit/bus service, one possible idea is to create a new discount card for commuters who are on fixed incomes. A photo id card could be issued to those who qualify. They would show the card to toll collectors and pay the reduced fares. The state would set the guidelines to qualify.

Westchester/Rockland residents currently subsidize Buffalo residents who receive a significant discount on the Grand Island Bridge. Grand Island residents pay 9 cents to cross the bridge. Non residents pay $1 per trip. Why does the Thruway Authority give residents of the Buffalo area a big discount on their local bridge and won’t do the same for residents of Westchester/Rockland?

By comparing tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge to the George Washington Bridge, the Thruway Authority is diverting attention away from the real issue which is toll equity across the ENTIRE 570-mile toll facility from the New England Thruway and the Cross Westchester Expressway in the South all the way to Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo in the North and Western parts of the State. Tolls in NYC are not the issue- or we could look at the Bear Mountain or Newburgh Beacon Bridges Cash Toll of $1.50 for passenger cars as an example- after all, it’s the next crossings of the Hudson to the north!

The toll structure across the New York has always been based on total costs along the whole system. Costs for projects in one location have never been charged solely to that location, but rather aggregated across the system as a whole. Toll rates in Buffalo, for example, are not increased solely to pay for Bridge replacements in Buffalo nor are toll rates in Syracuse increased solely to pay for bridge replacements in Syracuse. Closer to the Tappan Zee Bridge, two decades of bridge and highways projects along the New England Thruway did not increase tolls solely at the New Rochelle Toll Barrier, any more than did the Central Avenue Bridge replacement on the mainline of the Thruway in Yonkers increase tolls solely at the Yonkers toll barrier.

The Thruway is a lifeline facility for all of New York, including its largest cities. The Authority’s purpose, per the Public Authorities Law, is “to operate a thruway system… for the benefit of the people of the state of New York for the increase of their pleasure, convenience and welfare, for improvement of their health, to facilitate transportation for their recreation and commerce and for the common defense…” Note the language to a “thruway system” and to all the benefits listed which would be negatively impacted by deviating from the Thruway practice of equitably distributing costs across the ENTIRE SYSTEM.

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This public meeting will be held at the Greenburgh Town Hall, located at 177 Hillside Ave, White Plains. If you are interested in participating in the task force please email me at pfeiner@greenburghny.com or
call me at 914-438-1343.

Paul Feiner is the Town Supervisor for Greenburgh, New York.

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