Renewed Calls To Add Tolls To East River Bridges

Commuters who haven’t been paying to cross the East River into Manhattan may want to start saving.  There are renewed calls to add tolls to the East River bridges south of 60th Street.

Sam “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz, the former New York City traffic commissioner, is pitching a plan that would put tolls on the Brooklyn Bridge, the Queensboro Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.

It’s not exactly a new idea. Mayor Michael Bloomberg talked about a potential plan last year.

“Probably if you wanted to do it in this day and age, you just toll all the bridges around Manhattan, not just a handfull down below,” Bloomberg said.

The East River bridges weren’t always free. Back in the early 1900s, it would cost you 10 cents to drive your car into Manhattan, but those tolls were abolished in 1911.

As part of Gridlock Sam’s plan, the new tolls would be $7. But the tolls on other bridges, like the Throgs Neck and the Whitestone, which serve commuters who don’t have as many public transit options, would be reduced.
But many of the people who depend on the crossings to get into Manhattan aren’t on board.

“I think it’s a crazy idea to put tolls on the East River” said one driver. “

Schwartz says the new tolls could bring in as much as $1.2 billion in new revenue that could be funnelled to the cash-strapped MTA and into upgrades for the city’s roads and bridges.


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