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De Blasio: ‘Interesting And Innovative Ideas’ In New Congestion Pricing Plan

Plan Would Add $15 Tolls To 4 East River Bridges, Which Are All Currently Free
Brooklyn Bridge (credit: Getty Images)

Brooklyn Bridge (credit: Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new proposal would add tolls to East River bridges – all of which are currently free – but lower the cost at crossings not well-served by public transit.

As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, former city traffic commissioner “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz and Move NY have proposed the idea to add tolls to the bridges.

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the plan while taking questions from reporters Friday.

“I think he’s a really smart guy. I really do,” the mayor said. “I’ve talked to him about his plan. There’s some interesting and innovative ideas in it.”

De Blasio said he did not support a proposal for congestion pricing by his predecessor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. That proposal died in Albany.

“But I do want to say that that plan, at least, that Sam Schwartz put forward, was an honest and positive contribution to the dialogue, and I look forward to talking to him more about it,” de Blasio said.

Currently, the four city-owned large-span bridges between Manhattan and the outer boroughs – the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges to and from Brooklyn and the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to and from Queens, are all free.

But the two tunnels alongside the bridges – the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel — are owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and cost $15 round trip.

The proposal by Schwartz and Move NY would add the $15 round trip to the four East River bridges, but cut the current $15 toll on the Throgs Neck, Whitestone, Robert F. Kennedy Triborough and Verrazano Narrows bridges, to $10.

Alex Mattiessen of Move NY said the plan could generate more than $1 billion in infrastructure revenue.

“It would also put a toll across 60th Street, because otherwise it’s unfair to folks in Queens and Brooklyn if you’re just charging them,” Mattiesen said.

He said commuters on the city’s other bridges would notice the difference.

“We’re not talking about a token reduction of 25 cents or 50 cents,” Mattiesen said. “We’re talking about almost cutting in half.”

Mattiesen said his plan was different than the failed Bloomberg proposal.

“This is really a master plan for the region’s transportation system,” Mattiesen said. “And regionally not — just the five boroughs.”

The proposal would have to get approval from Albany to become a reality.

Move NY plans to have a series of public forums on the issue next year.

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