Councilman Van Bramer endorses MoveNY Fair Plan, adding Queensboro Bridge tolls

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Leonel Ponce

The MoveNY Fair Plan received another supporter in Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who officially endorsed the plan on Tuesday.

The plan, which is the brainchild of leading transportation engineer “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, would generate $1.35 billion annually through a number of tactics, including instituting tolls and fees to travel on the free East River bridges and below 60th Street in Manhattan. At the same time, it would reduce tolls on certain bridges and tunnels operated by the MTA.

According to MoveNY’s website, riders would see a 45 percent toll reduction on the RFK (Triborough), Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges and a 48 percent reduction on Cross Bay and Marine Parkway crossings. The money collected at the East River bridges — including the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City, Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges — would be invested into infrastructure improvement projects aimed at reducing congestion and improving travel time long-term.

The plan would add $8 tolls to each of the East River bridges, or $5.54 with E-ZPass.

“We’ve seen massive congestion problems both on the subway cars and platforms of the 7 train themselves, and then in addition to that, in the run up to the Queensboro Bridge,” Van Bramer said. “That’s why I am saying now we need to focus on this investment into our mass transit. The MoveNY plan is the best and most responsible way to get us there. This is a responsible way to ensure that the MTA’s needs are fully funded on an ongoing basis without putting a financial burden on the backs of riders.”

Earlier this year, 13 elected officials sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking him to support the plan, including Councilman Donovan Richards. Both the governor and Mayor Bill de Blasio have not expressed support of the plan. In an interview with NY1, Cuomo said it was highly unlikely that the plan would pass or fill the MTA’s budget gap.

The mayor on the other hand, proposed to strongly consider the plan when trying to find funding for the agency’s capital program. Cuomo, along with de Blasio, agreed to fund the plan earlier this month, but the MTA program is still about $700 million short.

In April, 18 Queens elected officials — including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Assemblyman David Weprin and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz — released a joint statement expressing their stance against the plan.

“It is fundamentally unfair to charge residents a fee to travel within one city. It is certainly unfair to the families who live in the transit desert of Queens and would landlock our borough,” the joint statement said.

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