Albany Tries To Justify Massive Hike As Just The Price Of Doing Business

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Tolls on the new Tappan Zee Bridge could be in the $14 range when it is slated to open in five years.

Larry Schwartz, a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, gave the estimate at a public meeting in Ramapo on Thursday. The new price is nearly three times the current toll cost of $5. On Friday, the governor attempted to explain the logic behind the expected massive hike.

“On the cost the choice is clear — a new, better bridge will require about the same tolls as just fixing the old bridge and about half the toll of a new bridge plus a new bus system,” Cuomo said.

WCBS 880’s John Metaxas reports

E-ZPass users will be paying slightly less than regular cash customers, but will still dish out $13.30. Daily commuters who use the bridge will be paying $8.40, officials said.

Upon hearing the news, drivers got very upset.

“Wow. That’s very expensive. That’s really, really very expensive,” one driver told WCBS 880’s John Metaxas. “Yeah, big surprise. Unbelievable.”

“I’ll have to go on welfare,” another driver told 1010 WINS’ John Montone. “I can’t afford to go to work with those prices.”

1010 WINS’ John Montone reports

“I think that’s totally outrageous,” said Art Pearson of Tarrytown told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

“I’m not going over; $14 is a lot of money. It’s crazy,” added Ann Marie Tierney.

“I wouldn’t want to pay $14. It’s not fair. It’s not fair at all. How far are you going to go with the taxes and everything else?” Tommy Bergin said.

“I’ve lived here all my life in Westchester and, you know, if I want to go fishing it’s like a $100 day to get back and forth. I can’t believe that it’s going to be higher than the bridges that go to Long Island and Queens,” Stanley Feigenblatt added.

The new cash toll will be more in line with the upcoming cost of crossing the Hudson River at the George Washington Bridge. The Port Authority is hiking that toll to $14 in 2014.

“The George Washington Bridge is scheduled to go up to $15 in the year 2015. If the new Tappan Zee Bridge opens two years later it will be at or below the cost of the George Washington Bridge. We’re not trying to price people out. We know it is a big expense. We know it is kind of a scary number,” said Brian Conybeare, special adviser to Gov. Cuomo.

Officials also insisted that the $14 tab is just a worse case scenario. If the bids to build the bridge come in lower than anticipated the tolls will go down, CBS 2’s Kramer reported.

On Wednesday, officials released the final impact statement on the new bridge, which said there will be no major, lasting environmental effects.

The new Tappan Zee Bridge is currently projected to be completed in 2017 at a cost of $5.2 billion.

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