Nadler, Rose, Velázquez Announce Split-Tolling Coming to Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge as Result of Bipartisan Budget Deal
Fiscal Year 2020 Omnibus Budget Package, which passed House today, set to pass the full Congress this week, includes language banning one-way toll on Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge; Will decrease traffic congestion and support transit funding for Staten Island and South Brooklyn
Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), along with Reps. Max Rose (NY-11) and Nydia Velázquez (NY-7), announced, following their push, the repeal of the split-tolling ban on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which spans the New York Harbor from Brooklyn to Staten Island, in the House-passed, bipartisan spending package for Fiscal Year 2020, expected to pass the full Congress this week. Split-tolling on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge will cut the existing fare in half, to be paid in both directions. Specifically, split-tolling will cost non-Staten Island residents $9.50 in both directions, and all discounts for residents will remain in place.
“After more than two decades working on this issue, I am incredibly proud that the House-passed FY2020 spending bills include language that ends the federal prohibition of split-tolling on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “Restoring split-tolling 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, which no longer will avoid a toll entering New York City via Staten Island or dodge tolls on the Hudson River Bridge and tunnel crossings. All New Yorkers will reap the benefits of the restoration of two-way toll collection, from reduced wear and tear on our bridges and tunnels and fewer trucks on the Staten Island Expressway, Gowanus Expressway, Manhattan Bridge and Canal & Broome Streets in Lower Manhattan. I applaud Congressman Rose and Congresswoman Velázquez for their hard work on this effort, and I look forward to seeing this legislation signed into law.”
“Split-tolling promises improvements in traffic flow throughout the City and I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues Congressmen Rose and Nadler to, at long last, see this fix passed into law,” said Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez. “By reversing this antiquated federal law, we’ll see fewer trucks entering the city by way of Staten Island and Brooklyn.”
“This change will help reduce truck congestion, and the air pollution and traffic it causes, on Staten Island. The implementation of electronic tolling made the old system outdated, so it’s about time that split-tolling was reinstated on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “The repeal of the split-tolling ban will benefit thousands of New York City residents in Brooklyn, Manhattan and on Staten Island and I’m proud to have worked with Congressman Max Rose and many of my colleagues in the House to deliver this win in the budget package for FY2020.”
“There is a traffic Armageddon looming for Staten Island drivers and bus riders, in the form of the roadway reconstruction project planned for a 1.7 mile stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway,” said Staten Island Borough President James S. Oddo. “The Staten Island Expressway is a major feeder of trucks through that corridor each morning, and as many in government actively wrestle with the epic traffic and transportation challenges this project will pose, they will tell you that split-tolling is imperative. The anticipated result is that trucks, deprived of the free ride, will divert away from the Verrazzano Bridge, a critical component in the planning efforts to lessen the impact of this reconstruction. Think about it. We know what a simple fender bender does to traffic flow - can you imagine this project? It would be a huge headache, and encouraging as much traffic as possible to take a different route is imperative. This may not have been the original driving force behind split-tolling, but it might be an unexpectedly fortuitous event with congestion gridlock madness looming on our headlights.”
“I would like to thank Congressman Max Rose for introducing this legislation to alleviate traffic on the West Shore and Staten Island Expressways and the Brooklyn Gowanus Expressway,” said Assemblymember Peter Abbate, Jr. “For many years, the elected officials in Brooklyn have asked to repeal the one-way tolling mandate across the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge. This will be a great victory for the residents of Staten Island and Brooklyn, in not only in reducing traffic, but also for a cleaner air environment.”
“The original reason for the one-way toll on the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge was to ease congestion around toll booths, which had created traffic headaches for commuters,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus. “The unintended consequence was toll shopping, as people looked for ways to avoid tolls while entering the city, which resulted in even greater congestion on our roads. Bringing back the split-tolling is a common-sense solution to ease traffic congestion around the bridge, while not increasing prices for residents, who already pay far too much to get around our city. I thank Congressman Rose for taking the lead in getting this done.”
“I think it’s inconsequential whether the Port Authority or the MTA receives toll revenue from trucks trying to enter Manhattan, and I am in favor of anything which will reduce the number of trucks and logjam on the Staten Island Expressway and Gowanus,” said Council Member Joe Borelli.
“Bay Ridge is fortunate to have Congressmembers like Max Rose, Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velazquez fighting for us in Washington,” said Council Member Justin Brannan. “Because of their efforts, this common sense plan to bring back split-tolling will end the days of toll-shopping trucks snaking their way through our community and choking our streets to evade tolls. Now, when we see those trucks in Bay Ridge, we’ll know they are here to make a local delivery.”
Currently, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is the only bridge in the country with federally mandated one-way tolling, which was 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. Enacting split-tolling will eliminate the loophole that drivers use to avoid paying tolls or to minimize the cost; it will reduce congestion and pollution on Staten Island, and could lead to $10 to $15 million in additional annual MTA revenue.
The MTA has 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 for communities as vehicles will divert away from local roads onto main thoroughfares and highways.