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Proponents Of Plan That Would Toll Queensboro Bridge Will Rally In Astoria This Weekend

Queensboro

June 2, 2016 By Michael Florio

Proponents of a controversial plan that would add a toll to the Queensboro Bridge will rally in Astoria this weekend.

The rally will take place on Saturday at 11 a.m., starting at the Astoria Blvd N/Q subway station, at 31st Street between Astoria Blvd and Hoyt Avenue South. The Riders Alliance and Transportation Alternatives organized the rally in hopes of garnering support for the “Move NY Fair Plan,” which would change how bridges and crossings in New York City are tolled.

The plan was put forward in Feburary 2015 by the transportation coalition Move NY; it was introduced as a bill in the State Assembly about three months ago.

The Move NY plan would introduce tolls on the Queensboro and other East River bridges of $5.54 each way with E-ZPass, or $8 without, while reducing fares on other major bridges, including the Triborough/RFK, by up to 48 percent.

Move NY believes that this “toll swap” would be more fair for drivers on the Triborough/RFK and other tolled bridges, who have fewer transportation alternatives. Meanwhile, the coalition charges that it would de-incentivize the Queensboro Bridge, therefore reducing congestion and pollution around Queens Plaza.

Move NY also says its plan would generate $1.35 billion annually. Per the Assembly bill text, the new revenue would go towards MTA expansion projects potentially including ferry service, subway and bus station improvements and road and bridge maintenance, among others.

Saturday’s rally participants will hand out $2.50 “dollar bills” to inform Queens drivers about the strategy for reduced tolls on the nearby Triborough/RFK Bridge.

A handful of local officials have already voiced their support for the plan.

“I said it many times in the past, but I will encourage New Yorkers to take a close look at the proposal and the benefits it would bring to our transportation system,” State Sen. Jose Peralta said. “I believe this plan will get traffic moving, will fix inequalities in how bridges are tolled and it will provide a sustainable source of much needed revenue for the MTA.”

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer has also come out in favor of the plan.

“We’ve seen massive congestion problems both on the subway cars and platforms of the 7 train themselves, and then in addition to that, in the run up to the Queensboro Bridge,” Van Bramer said in a statement. “That’s why I am saying now we need to focus on this investment into our mass transit. The Move NY plan is the best and most responsible way to get us there.”

“This is a responsible way to ensure that the MTA’s needs are fully funded on an ongoing basis without putting a financial burden on the backs of riders,” he added.

However, not everyone is convinced.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris was one of several elected officials invited to Saturday’s rally, but he remains skeptical of the plan and will not attend the rally, according to his office.

Assembly Member Aravella Simotas is also wary.

“Traffic and transportation are complicated problems and I’m not sure that this proposal gets us where we want to go,” Simotas said in a statement.

She will be “unable to attend” the rally, according to her office.

Assembly Members Cathy Nolan and Margaret Markey have both been invited to Saturday’s rally. Neither responded to requests for comment on the Move NY plan.

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9 Comments

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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr.

Never mind: Based on the given political climate in the state, city, and local, this proposal will not go anywhere, anytime soon.

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Alex Matthiessen

p.s. I hope Assembly members Simotas and Nolan will give us a chance to brief them in person before they take a position on the plan. AM Nolan met with us a few years ago and while still skeptical agreed the plan was a big improvement over the 2007-08 one.

Reply
Alex Matthiessen

Folks, a few clarifications (from the director of the Move NY campaign: There will be no toll booths — all electronic tolling (E-ZPass and “pay by mail”) at newly tolled crossings. Strongly agree with commenter who said we need “to get the clear message across Queens” in order to pass legislation. That’s exactly right — our experience shows a lot of Queens residents in particular are having a knee-jerk response against the Move NY proposal, mainly because they’re assuming, incorrectly, that it’s the same plan as the one introduced by Mayor Bloomberg in 2007. It’s NOT. This plan, designed in large part by traffic expert “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, is deliberately designed to be both pro-driver and pro-rider. Folks need to look at the details of the plan and weigh the full pros and cons before they criticize the idea. You can find all the details at http://iheartmoveny.org Finally, first commenter mistaken about reduced tolls going back up. Provision in the bills that rescinds all new tolls and revenue if MTA violates the new ratios between newly lowered outer bridge tolls and the CBD tolls. They’d never thus raise the outer tolls disproportionately as they would lose a lot more revenue than they would gain. That’s as close to a failsafe measure as you can get. Please educate yourselves about the plan and if you find yourselves reconsidering let us know and spread the word!

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Will Nunziata

i can’t forsee easing traffic when you’re gonna have people waiting in toll lanes both ways. keep the bridges free. taxi costs are gonna go up as well for everyone,

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Skip Seglipse

Great idea, long overdue. Anyone who lives in LIC/Astoria who doesn’t like this idea is a fool. Tolls will get congestion off of 21st St. and vernon blvd by keeping them on already tolled roads like the RFK bridge, instead of using our local streets as a corridor to get to the free Queensboro Bridge.

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MRLIC

It’s a BAD IDEA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is a Do Nothing City Council for sure. How can The City Council hurt the people of NYC today with a TAX or a TOLL should be their MOTTO.

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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr.

In the short-term like a couple of years, this plan will not pass. In the long-term like several years, it will pass. The reason why is because it takes a lot of time to get the clear message across Queens to make this beneficial for everyone.

Reply
Ahhhhh

ahhh the city council….cries because they can’t survive on a 112000 annual salary with full benefits on a practically do nothing job, so they give themselves a major raise….in the meantime, they add a new toll, charge a ridiculous tax on plastic bags, and allow people to pee on sidewalks….At this rate…..we got a pollution problem…how about we charge a breathing tax?

Reply
the_the

Toll swap for a couple of years, then back to the same old prices or more.

Is this going to happen at the Manhattan, Williamsburg and Brooklyn bridges too?

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