Calls Renewed For Tolls On East River Bridges

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – It was 100 years ago today that tolls on the East River bridges were lifted.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell In Manhattan

“When the bridges were built, the absolute intent was to maintain them with toll revenue,” says traffic engineer Sam Schwartz (a.k.a. “Gridlock Sam”).

He says that means the city has forgone $31 billion in revenue. He’d like to see the tolls come back.

“The public is paying for it now. It’s paying for it in risks. It’s paying for it in the congestion,” says Schwartz.

Schwartz says that when he was chief engineer for the New York City Department of Transportation, the Manhattan Bridge nearly fell into the river. Routine maintenance has been neglected for decades.

“When we blasted away the rust, half the steel was gone in the eyebar,” says Schwartz.

The eyebar is what held the bridge cables to the Earth.

The money from tolls would be used for maintenance.

“I really hope we don’t have to wait till we have a disaster,” says Schwartz.

To mark this anniversary, the NYC Bridge Centennial Commission, co-founded by Schwartz, will erect a historic replica toll-booth at the Manhattan entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge (Delancey Street at Suffolk Street).

More from Peter Haskell
  • TONY


  • Rob

    There’s nothing this Schwartz guy can say or tell me that we need to pay more with our hard earned dollars towards maintenance of the bridges. Every single motorist that has a car already paid or is paying for the bridges and tunnel through fees on inspections, registration fees, & insurance fees. Those money goes towards bridges and tunnels for maintenance, payroll, & etc. So don’t tell us to pay more because the fees we’re paying goes up every 2 years, so stop it with your BS Schwartz Boy. Only the uneducated ones will fall for your innuendo BS of tolls on bridges. I question your expertise on bridges with your so-call engineer lic. You got your license from the island of Malta? Or was it from Trump BS College online?

  • Rob

    Sam Schwartz go FCUK * + YOURSELF and drop you piece of Chitlet. That’s the worse explaination of implantmenting a tax upon us people of NYC. We’re in a depression and the last thing we need is a new form of tax like the one you’re trying to impose here. So go FCUK % # youself Schwartz BOY.

  • Bell Toller

    Where does the toll money go to?

  • marx engels

    The concept is called Open Road Tolling and there would be no traffic jams at all. You would drive through and not even realize it until you got a bill in the mail.for more money in little hitler’s pocket.

  • Patrick Guce

    AMEN…….. The roads are at there worst and tolls are still being collected on the GWB, GSP, NJ Turnpike etc. The money never goes towards repair. And from what I’ve heard the tolls where to pay for the building of the roads, once they where paid for the tolls where to go away. I so love how this pompous ass can go on record and lie to people!!!!!!

  • bloombergisafascist

    this toll money would be used to fix the bridges like the lotto money helps the schools
    to funny.

  • SAL

    Mr.Sam Schwartz go ++ FCUK++ yourself,

  • Rugbyball

    There is no way someone can say with a straight face that the toll money will only be used for the Bridges and tunnels maintenance. The city has done it over and over again where they bury the funds from tolls and use it for “social” services or other vote buying project.
    If the money was to go into a separate account specific for Bridge and Tunnel maintenance, audited by an independent firm paid for by the money they audit, and monetarily rewarded if they find corruption or fraud in the fund and the information leads to a conviction, then maybe I would be OK with a toll. But we all know that will never happen, NYS and NYC dump all money into General Fund for a reason, because its near impossible to audit it!

  • Steven

    Sam Schartz who has practically admitted that he was asleep at the wheel when these bridges were falling apart now claims that “when the bridges were built, the absolute intent was to maintain them with toll revenue.” That’s nonsense and Schwartz should know better. The tolls on ALL bridges were meant to be collected until the bonds (the cost of borrowing money to build these bridges) were paid off and on ALL NYC bridges and tunnels, these bonds were paid off gnerations ago. What Schwartz is advocating is in effect is to stick it to the NYC motorist to provicd another revenue enhancement, i.e., TAX to fund the city’s general revenue collection box. Perhaps if people like Schwartz in the city’s engineering department were awake and gave these bridges the proper maintenance that they needed, instead of neglect, we wouldn’t be having this discussion now. The NYS motorist is being hit over the head with high insurance, high registration fees, the changing of license plates costs, a tax on new tires, a tax on this and that, both a state and city tax on gasoline, the cost of repairing our cars due to pot holes, meter fees, 19% tax on parking a car in a garage in the Manhattan, etc. and Schwartz is now pushing for tolls on our free bridges?

    • John

      Many ignorant politicians in our city have tried very hard to put this toll booth plan into action. The idea goes way back before the Lindsay administration. And the reason that putting tolls on these briidges will NEVER happen is because there is simply no room anywhere near these bridges to put them!. Thank God no one ever thought of doing that as the bridges were built, but don’t forget they were built before the 20th century, when government shakedowns were when someone simply knocked on your door and said, “Taxman”.

      Think about it. On both sides of the Brooklyn bridge, in Brooklyn you have businesses, brand new apartment buildings, a penitentiary and two small lanes leading to the bridge’s entrance. On the Manhattan side once you get off you can run smack dab into City Hall, or a sharp turn to the right will immediately put you on the courthouse steps. Next time your down there, take a good look and ask yourself how ANYONE could make it possible? The traffic nightmare is bad enough!

      On the Manhattan Bridge, same thing. Businesses and apartments half a block away, and in Manhattan you have the Bowery and Canal Street. The only almost practical place you can put tolls would be on Canal Street. Hear that everyone? CANAL STREET!!! HA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAA….Oh that’s rich!

      There’s hardly any room to even walk near the Williamsburg. I live near the Queensboro and somebody would have to blast away at least five city blocks to make that work.

      So relax, gang. It will never happen solely for that reason. Because otherwise, trust me we would have already had it.

    • Rich Scorce

      We will NEVER see that money go to road improvements. Maybe Bloomie and bike commissioner Chaka Khan will use it for more bike lanes.

      • John

        Yep. This coming from a Mayor who constantly says the city is practically bankrupt, the MTA is nearly bankrupt (Riiiiiiiight), and yet, the city has a $30 million dollar budget to redo the entire waterfront AND extend the bike path. Let’s not forget a couple of years ago, when Bloomers had the brilliant idea of changing all the street signs because the lettering was too big. I say build an outhouse in front of one of the bridges and call it the Bloomberg Depository!

      • Larry

        Wrong! Bloomberg will use this money to name or rename these more of these bridges and tunnels for corrupt politicians like Koch and Carey. The city is broke but Bloomberg spent four million dollars to re-name the Triboro Bridge for Robert F. Kennedy, why? because he’s friendly with the Kennedys? Does anyone know that this Kennedy was a carpet bagger who came to NYS, only like Hillary to grab a senate seat to use as a launching pad for a Presidential Race? This Kennedy who only represented NYS for less than four years got a bridge named for him! Perhaps the Kennedy family should reimburse the city the four million dollars for the signage cost. But then again, how could Bloomberg name this bridge as it technically belongs to the State through the MTA.

    • karlson

      Obviously the intent of these NY officials is to make Manhattan too expensive for motorists to bother with.

      Remember to drive out and once you bypass Manhattan, don’t turn around to come back.

  • Peter

    These bridges were paid for a long time ago and there is no need to steal from the users of them. I can’t believe that Schwartz admitted that it was on his watch as chief engineer that these bridges almost fell apart, like what was he doing to maintain them. Why did he wait for the last moment to start repairs? Any tolls on these bridges, like the ones we all pay for on MTA and PA bridges and tunnels – whether we drive or not, we still pay when we take car service or for the additional cost of bringing our food to the store – will never be used for maintenance but rather for other city expenses, including payoffs to Bloomberg’s friends and the democratic political machine. The only difference between NY and Chicago is that corrupt politicians go to jail in Illinios while in NYS they rig the system to overturn term limits so they can get re-elected. The city under Bloomberg wastes $10 Billion a year on out-sourcing when city employees can do the this job for a less than $1 Billion but if this happened, then how can Bloomberg’s buddies get rich. The PA took toll revenue and used it to buiild the first WTC complex and is doing the same with the complext being built now. The PA also built the AIRTRAIN with toll revenues as well has a bloated payroll with high paid executives. Same with the MTA which fired one Executive Director who was makeing only $365,000 per annum and replaced him with an import from London (England) who is making $450,000 per annum, more than President Obama! And what does the MTA do for us? They replaced perfectly designed subway cars which max out the number of seats which garbage imported from Japan with fewer seats to max out the number of people who can stand which lowers the quallity of our life as who wants to stand going and coming from work especially since the average subway commute is about an hour.

  • Rick

    A toll on the 59th makes for an interesting delima. The smog from the traffic jam will violate federal standards.

  • richard Allen

    I cant image the traffic jams on queens and Northern blvd if this happens…the NEW construction is HORRIBLE it will make traffic worse, the lights are not timed and backups are frequent

    We will realize soon enough what a waste of taxpayers money it was to redesign the roads under the 7 and N trains.

    If tolls were M-F between say 7am to 4pm it would be fine with me since i never drive during the day over the bridge but if its on weekends night or holidays, then watch out for the traffic nightmare..

blog comments powered by Disqus
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live