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ICYMI: Nadler, Rose, Velázquez Announced Plan to Reinstate Two-Way Tolling on Verrazzano, Decreasing Traffic Congestion and Supporting Transit Funding for Staten Island and South Brooklyn

Two-way tolling would split fare in both directions and close longstanding loophole that negatively impacts Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan commuters- MTA supports proposal

Washington, April 29, 2019

New York, N.Y. — Yesterday, U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Max Rose, and Nydia Velázquez announced their support for a federal effort to bring two-way tolling back to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which studies have shown would decrease congestion in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, and increase revenue by tolling out-of-state drivers at no additional cost to Staten Islanders. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) leadership will support the proposal and is committed to investments in public transportation on Staten Island and in South Brooklyn in its 2020-2024 Capital Plan.

The announcement was made yesterday at a press conference at the Fort Wadsworth Visitor’s Center on Staten Island with Reps. Rose, Nadler, Velázquez, MTA Chairman Patrick Foye, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Assemblymember Peter J. Abbate, Jr., Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, and Councilmembers Justin Brannan and Margaret Chin.

“After more than two decades working on this issue, I am extremely proud to stand here today with my colleagues in Congress, Rep. Nydia Velázquez and Rep. Max Rose as we announce federal legislation to finally restore two-way tolling on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge,” Rep. Nadler said. “The restoration of toll collection in both directions, using electronic tolling that does not require stops at a toll plaza, will greatly improve traffic and congestion in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, while also capturing new vital funding for the MTA from out of state trucks, who no longer will avoid a toll entering New York City via Staten Island in order to escape the charges on the Hudson River Bridge and tunnel crossings. All New Yorkers, will reap the benefits of the restoration of two-way toll collection, from new additional revenue for the MTA and fewer trucks on the Staten Island Expressway, Gowanus Expressway, Manhattan Bridge and Canal & Broome Streets in Lower Manhattan. Finally, it is important to note that in conjunction with this announcement the MTA has agreed to seek strategic investments in mass transit for the residents of South Brooklyn and Staten Island in the next MTA Capital Plan. I thank MTA Chairman Pat Foye for working with us on reducing congestion in New York City and committing to providing transit improvements for the communities of South Brooklyn and Staten Island.”

“Staten Island and South Brooklyn have been used as a cheap thoroughfare for far too long,” Rep. Rose said. “The status quo is not working for Staten Islanders and South Brooklynites who are living through nightmare commutes every single day. We don’t have decades to wait, we need action—and this plan to bring Split Tolling to the Verrazzano will help get us there by dramatically decreasing commuter traffic in Staten Island and Brooklyn, while also reinvesting future revenue into the buses and public transit options that Staten Island and South Brooklyn deserve.”

“The MTA applauds Representative Rose, Nadler, and Velázquez’s efforts to improve transportation options and reduce congestion on Staten Island, restoring two-way tolling to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge,” Chairman Foye said. “Given today’s technology, there is no reason to require tolls only in one direction on this important crossing, and we look forward to rationalizing the collections so they match every other tolled-bridge in the nation, helping to fund the next MTA capital plan including much-needed investments in Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn.”

“For far too long, the one-way tolling system on the Verrazzano bridge has resulted in excessive commercial traffic making its way across Staten Island and then through Brooklyn neighborhoods as trucks seek to avoid local tolls,” Rep. Velázquez said. “The solution being announced today will mean less congestion, safer streets and better air quality in our communities. It will reduce wear and tear on Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island infrastructure like the BQE, Gowanus Expressway, Manhattan Bridge and Canal Street. This agreement will also yield additional funds to be invested in greater transit options for the local area. I want to thank my colleagues, Congressmen Rose and Nadler, and the MTA for working with us to develop and get behind this plan. I look forward to working with all my colleagues as we push through the appropriations process the necessary federal legislation to enable split tolling.”

“The one-way double toll on the Verrazzano Bridge has diverted cars and trucks up the BQE and across the congested streets of Lower Manhattan for far too long,” State Senator Kavanagh said. “We’ve always understood that it will take federal and state cooperation to change this, so it’s very gratifying that Congressmembers Nadler, Rose, and Velázquez and the MTA are committing to this plan to authorize and implement two-way tolling. Fewer cars and trucks circumventing the existing toll will mean less traffic congestion, better air quality, and more revenue for public transportation. It’s particularly critical at this moment, as we work to minimize the impact of the BQE reconstruction project that looms large over communities I represent in Brooklyn. I look forward to working with my elected colleagues and the MTA to ensure that this critical change is finally achieved!”  

“As someone who represents both Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn, I know firsthand how difficult, inconvenient, and tiresome it is to sit in dead-stop traffic just to drive a few miles,” State Senator Diane Savino said. “Changing to a two-way tolling system on the Verrazzano will alleviate the traffic nightmare in this entire region, allowing people to spend more time with their families and less time on the road. I want to thank Congressman Max Rose for his advocacy and leadership on this issue, we are hopeful that after decades of this languishing in Congress, we will soon see it cross the finish line.”

“I applaud Representatives Rose, Nadler and Velázquez for ensuring that we can bring back two-way tolling on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge,” State Senator Andrew Gounardes said. “This small change will go a long way to reducing traffic coming over the bridge, congesting our highways and causing backups on our local roads. Restoring two-way toll collection will also stop cars and trucks from evading toll collection and bring much-needed revenue back into the MTA's coffers to help fund the critical mass transit infrastructure needs we have. The transit survey I’m conducting in southern Brooklyn is quantifying what we already know: southern Brooklyn suffers from extended subway delays, widespread transit deserts, and inaccessible stations. This plan will help make their commutes—and our neighborhood—better.”

“I am happy that my colleagues in Congress have taken action on an issue that I have promoted for the past ten years,” Assemblymember Abbate said. “Two-way tolling both ways on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge will definitely reduce traffic in Brooklyn and across Staten Island by trucks seeking to avoid the tolls. There is absolutely no reason to maintain tolls in only one direction and the two-way tolling will mean less congestion and additional funding for MTA capital plan that will provide necessary investments in our community.”

“After decades of working with my colleagues in the federal government, I am so glad to be standing with them today as they announce legislation to restore two-way tolling on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge,” Assemblymember Simon said. “The one-way tolling system has burdened Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan with unnecessary car and truck traffic for far too long, and this change will bring safer streets and less congestion to New Yorkers. Moreover, the loss of revenue for those necessary truck trips has also deprived New York of millions of dollars of revenue that furthered the decline of public transit dollars that will now bring better transit to the affected communities. I thank Representatives Nadler, Rose, and Velázquez for their leadership in this endeavor.”

“I commend our members of Congress for bringing this issue to the forefront of their agendas,” Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus said. “At the state level we have taken steps to ease the burden that tolls present for South Brooklyn and Staten Island residents with discounts for people who use the route often. Reinstating the two-way toll on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge conveys consensus among us elected officials in the area when it comes to finding the balance between helping our constituents and ensuring that we continue to raise revenue to maintain and improve the conditions of our local transportation system.”

“Two-way tolling is a common sense plan that will reduce traffic congestion and pollution on our local streets,” Councilmember Brannan said. “Gone will be the days of toll-shopping trucks snaking their way through our community and choking our streets just to save a few bucks. Now, the only reason we'll see them in Bay Ridge or Dyker Heights is if they need to make a local delivery. I want to thank Congressmembers Nadler, Velázquez and Rose for their leadership on this issue.”

“For decades, one-way tolling has brought congestion and pollution to Staten Island, without commensurate investment in our transportation infrastructure,” Councilmember Debi Rose said. “While one-way tolls made sense in the 20th Century, we now have the tools to eliminate loopholes that have brought toll-shopping traffic from the region to our highways. I thank our federal representatives for their common-sense leadership that will pave the way for less traffic on our roads, cleaner air and more investments in our transit network.”

Two-way tolling would not lead to increased fares, but instead splits existing fares in half to be paid in both directions. Currently, the Verrazzano-Narrows-Bridge is the only bridge in the country with federally mandated one-way tolling, first instituted in the 1980s to cut down on traffic backups from toll gantries. With modern day electronic tolling technology, the need for one-way tolling no longer exists—and by cutting out the loophole that drivers use to avoid paying or minimize the costs of tolls, enacting two-way tolling would cut down on congestion and pollution on Staten Island and could lead to $10 to $15 million in additional annual MTA revenue.

Both the MTA and independent consultants have found that split tolling eliminates incentives for non-commuters to toll-shop around New York City, reducing traffic congestion in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn. Air quality will also be improved as vehicles will divert away from local roads onto main thoroughfares and highways.

The 2020-2024 MTA capital plan will be released in October of this year and will detail capital investments being made across the MTA’s entire service area. The plan will be reviewed by the Capital Plan Review Board and voted on by the MTA Board. 

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