Just a few weeks before the summer beach season arrives, the toll booths at the bridges to and from the Rockaways will be a thing of the past.
New open road, cashless tolling systems at the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Bridge will be activated on April 30, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday. As of April 30, cash tolls will no longer be accepted at the crossings; the tolls will be collected electronically either by scanning a vehicle’s E-ZPass or through a “toll-by-mail” system in which each vehicle will be photographed, and a bill will be sent to the vehicle’s owner.
The open road method will not affect Rockaway residents who receive a discounted toll at these crossings, Cuomo said. They will be provided through E-ZPass the best rate for all drivers.
“The Rockaway bridges are vital arteries for the Queens community, and we are taking action to reduce congestion, increase safety and streamline the commute at these crossings,” Cuomo said.
It’s the latest step in the MTA Bridges & Tunnels ongoing toll collecting conversion from traditional manned booths to open road tolling at its crossings across the five boroughs. Open road tolling has already been enacted at the Queens Midtown Tunnel in Long Island City, as well as at the Hugh Carey (Brooklyn Battery) Tunnel and the Henry Hudson Bridge.
The Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) and Verrazano Bridges will go cashless this summer, followed by the Whitestone and Throgs Neck Bridges in the fall.
Under open road tolling, scanning devices and digital cameras are mounted onto gantries elevated above traffic lanes. Vehicles can keep moving as their E-ZPass tags or license plates are scanned or photographed.
According to the governor’s office, cashless tolling will save commuters up to 21 hours of traveling each year, and reduce the amount of fuel consumed and emitted.
Drivers who still use tokens for the Rockaway bridges may still do so through April 29; after that date, they may redeem their leftover tokens at any E-ZPass New York Customer Service Center (the Queens location is at 19-02 Whitestone Expwy. in Whitestone) or request redemption by calling 212-360-3000 (select option 6 and ask for a token refund kit). Rockaway residents who use tokens will be mailed information from MTA Bridges & Tunnels about transitioning to E-ZPass.
Of course, many Queens residents want the Cross Bay Bridge toll to completely disappear. It is the only crossing in New York City in which drivers must pay to travel between parts of the same borough.