Opposition Growing To Proposal For Tolls On East River Bridges

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on March 2, 2015.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Here we go again.

The great debate over congestion pricing in the city has been revived.

Assemblyman David Weprin, D-Queens, told reporters Sunday at the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge that implementing tolls at now-free East River bridges won’t work and vowed to fight against any plan calling for news tolls, which he said would impact seniors, the middle class and small businesses.

“I cannot think of a better example of highway robbery,” he said, 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis reported.

Instead, Weprin said he’ll push to revive the commuter tax, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.

“This is simply against the boroughs, against the working, the middle class and the mom-and-pop stores and every community all across the city,” added Steven Barrison of the Small Business Congress.

Move NY, a group founded by traffic expert “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz, finalized its plan last month to place electronic tolls and license cameras on the East River crossings and at 60th Street in Manhattan.

It “essentially lowers tolls in the outer parts of the city where drivers are paying way too much and asks those drivers who are paying nothing to cover the most congested and transit rich part of the city to pay their fair share,” said Move NY Campaign Director Alex Matthiessen.

The plan would put tolls on the East River bridges, but drop the cost of traveling over other city spans.

The proposal calls for drivers to pay $8 cash, or $5.54 with E-ZPass, each way at the now-free East River spans and on every avenue crossing 60th Street.

But the plan would cut tolls by $2.50 on the Verrazano-Narrows, RFK Triborough, Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges, and $1 on the Henry Hudson, Cross Bay and Marine Parkway bridges.

The plan would generate $1.5 billion a year to upgrade mass transit, according to supporters.

The proposal is being billed as a “toll swap,” as Move NY officials have shied away from the “congestion pricing” tag, the term given to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s failed bid to limit traffic in much of Manhattan.

“Let’s call it for what it is,” Weprin argued. “It’s nothing but a renewed congestion-pricing initiative.”

Drivers are divided.

“Absolutely not a good idea,” one woman told Dennis.

“I think if it reduces the congestion, it’s a good idea,” one man said.

The plan would need city and state approval.

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