NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said all seven bridges and tunnels will have cashless tolls by the end of the year, but much of that construction is happening on several bridges at the same time.
That means big traffic back-ups over the East River.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, commuters are demanding to know who created the short-sighted plan.
Cars were crawling along the Bronx entrance to the Throgs Neck Bridge, and spilling onto side streets. It was so congested that a state trooper had to drive the wrong way to get through. This wasn’t rush hour, it was 11 p.m. on a weekend — the sight has been common for months.
“It should take me an hour and forty minutes, and it’s taken three-and-a-half hours every weekend for the past two-and-a-half months,” Palma Rispoli said.
“It’s been bad for almost two months. I thought it’d be better once schools got out, but it didn’t work out that way,” Johnny Massa added.
So, what’s the hold up?
Construction is under way on the Throgs Neck Bridge to replace tollbooths with cashless ones. The same work is happening right now on the Whitestone Bridge.
Construction just ended on the Robert F. Kennedy Triborough Bridge in June — all of this work happening at once is creating a traffic nightmare.
“You say, oh I’ll get off, go to the side streets. I’ll take this street, that avenue, and I’ll get to the Throgs Neck, and go that way, and when they get here they realize everyone else is doing that too,” said New York State Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (D-The Bronx).
The MTA admitted there has been an uptick in traffic by the bridges and told CBS2 they’re working hard to accelerate construction. Some people said that’s exactly the problem, the project was rushed from the start.
“Totally bad planning. I don’t know if they’re trying to get this done fast, and so rushed they’re just doing it now without thinking about the consequences,” Sandy Maione said.
State Assemblyman Benedetto agreed that construction should have been scheduled one bridge at a time, and blames the haste on the governor.
“I’m sure the governor doesn’t want to hold everyone up in traffic for two hours to get over a bridge, however, I’m sure it’ll look good for him if it finally gets done and everyone’s gonna be so happy now come the fall,” Benedetto said.
CBS2 asked the governor about scheduling. Their only response was to applaud the cashless tolling project. CBS2 also reached out to the MTA numerous times, but they wouldn’t tell us who made the decision on scheduling and why.
“They’re telling us this won’t be done until September. We’re only in July. What does that say for the whole summer?” Maione wondered.
Hindsight is 20-20, but for frustrated commuters, any other plan would have been better than this.