By Steve Mosco and Philip Newman
State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) has announced legislative renewal of the E-ZPass rebates for residents of Rockaway and Broad Channel who use the Cross Bay-Veterans Memorial Bridge.
“Hundreds are still reeling from the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy and knowing that the residency rebate will continue is a huge victory for residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaways,” said Goldfeder.
“I was successful in implementing the rebate last year and continue to fight to eliminate this unfair tax and lift a considerable financial burden for many hardworking families and small businesses of our community,” Goldfeder said.
Registered residents of Rockaway and Broad Channel receive a discount on their E-ZPasses when using the bridge, meaning they pay $1.31 each time they use the bridge, the only intraborough toll span in New York City.
For residents of the Queens community, a discount is not enough: They want the toll abolished.
Soon after taking office, Goldfeder introduced legislation in the Assembly to that end.
For many years, Goldfeder’s predecessor, Audrey Pheffer, fought for abolition of the bridge toll.
“We will never give up,” Pheffer said before leaving the Assembly.
For many residents, their nearest gas station, drug store, church, bank, doctor’s office or post office requires using the toll bridge.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said the toll is a detriment to the Rockaways and slows the advancement of the peninsula. As he tries to bring business to Rockaways, the senator said the issue of tolls always comes up as a hurdle that potential businesses do not want to jump over.
While he wants it eliminated completely as a way to help revitalize the Rockaways, Addabbo said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority should at least consider suspending the toll during certain parts of the year.
“Short of eliminating it completely, the least the MTA could do is give us a break,” he said. “The MTA wants summer money, fine, but give us a break between Labor Day and Memorial Day.”
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 718-260-4536.