By Philip Newman
Rockway Peninsula and Broad Channel residents protested for a second day Wednesday, expressing frustration at an MTA plan to reimpose tolls on the Cross Bay Bridge with some saying otherwise they may do their shopping in Nassau County.
State Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway) led off speakers before the MTA Bridges and Tunnels Committee in Manhattan Wednesday.
Users of the bridge have received a rebate for the past 10 years, but the MTA now wants to rescind it.
Broad Channel and Rockaway residents who have E−ZPass currently pay $1.03 to go over the bridge — a $1.47 discount from the $2.50 cash rate — and then get a $1.03 credit immediately posted to their account for a free trip. Non-residents with E−ZPass pay $1.55 at the crossing.
Committee members said they planned to recommend to the MTA Finance Committee that the MTA not bring back tolls.
“Putting a toll on the Cross Bay Bridge is the same as putting a toll in the middle of Queens Boulevard,” Pheffer said. “Rockaway and Broad Channel share the same zip code, same police precinct, firehouse and post office. Each time people have to pay a toll to go to parts of their own “community.”
The protesters demonstrated Tuesday at the bridge along with elected officials, including Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, who said local residents would be “tempted to go into Nassau County to shop since they would not have to pay a toll to do so.”
Indeed, several protesters told the MTA Bridges and Tunnels Committee restoring tolls would leave no choice since it would be cheaper than using the bridge.