Local Pols Hope To Do Away With Bridge Toll

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Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach) introduced a bill that would prohibit the imposition and collection of a fare, toll, rental, rate, charge or other fee on the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge. A8743/S6909 is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Joseph P. Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), and cosponsored by Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven).

When the Cross Bay Bridge was built in 1939, the toll was only 10 cents. Today? $4.25 for a crossing from one part of Queens to another. Local politicians are standing up for drivers that have to pay this uncalled for toll, through new legislation.

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato recently introduced bill A8743/S6909, a bill that would prohibit the imposition and collection of a fare, toll or any charge for the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge. The bill is sponsored by State Senator Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Mike Miller of Woodhaven.

This past legislative session, Pheffer Amato successfully secured for another year the ‘Rockaway Rebate,’ which reimburses Rockaway Peninsula and Broad Channel residents for trips across the Cross Bay Bridge. But she’s hoping to do more by having the toll eliminated.

Before the reimbursement, local residents of Rockaway and Broad Channel are required to pay the toll, several times a day, in order to get to work and back, transport children to and from school and complete other everyday errands. According to Pheffer Amato, the toll has the impact of dividing communities, artificially creating economic barriers, hampering tourism and keeping the area most impacted by Superstorm Sandy from affecting a full and thorough economic recovery.

“The Cross Bay Memorial Bridge is the only tolled intra-Borough or intra-County bridge in our State,” said Pheffer Amato. “The toll has outlived its original stated purpose of paying for the bridge, has absolutely no stated current purpose besides supplementing the MTA’s budget on the backs of New Yorkers. I’m absolutely certain the cost of ending this onerous toll would be made up several times over the freedom and ease of access it would bring to South Queens and the Rockaway Peninsula.”

“Charging residents of Queens to access areas of their own borough is just wrong,” Addabbo said. “The outdated toll on the Cross Bay Memorial Bridge has not only been an unfair burden to the residents of southern Queens, some of whom work or attend school daily on the peninsula, but a significant reason why this isolated area of Queens has not realized its full economic potential, by repelling developers and retail businesses. I stand beside my colleagues to say the time is now to eliminate the toll on the Cross Bay Memorial Bridge.”

Pheffer Amato admitted that this isn’t a new issue, but hopes to continue to put pressure on the State to finally get rid of it. “The ‘stop the toll issue’ has been around long before me, but the time is now to end it. With the Governor promising to fund MTA, there must be additional funding provided this session for the Cross Bay Bridge because we have suffered for too long, cannot continue to stunt economic growth, and disincentivizes freedom of motion within a single Borough and State,” she said.

As of January 3, 2018, A.8743/S.6909 is currently within the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee.

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