Queens Civic Congress is opposed to any plans to put tolls on free East River crossings

By Bob Harris

The Queens Civic Congress Inc. is a registered New York State non-profit organization representing more than 100 civic associations and other community organizations in Queens County.

In the November 2017 newsletter, The Congressional, Bob Friedrich , president of Glen Oaks Village Coop and co-chairperson of the Queens Civic Congress, published a letter against tolls on our East River crossings.

The letter warns that “the Robber ‘toll’ Barons are coming for you.” Due to the need to repair the aging subway system, the governor seems to want to put tolls on our East River crossings to provide a sustainable revenue stream. A few years ago this was stopped by the state Legislature. A past plan for congestion pricing had sought a toll on vehicles which went below 60th Street in Manhattan.

In the past enough people had opposed the proposals to kill them. One complaint was the pollution that would be caused from vehicles stopping at toll booths. However, new license plate scanners mean that vehicles don’t have to stop.

One reason to oppose a toll is the cost, which had been proposed at $8. If any new proposal used the same rate, then it could cost $8 to cross a bridge or tunnel, then $8 to go into the business district below 60th street unless $8 was charged to go further north, then the same amount to retrace your trip. Friedrich calculated this at $32 for one trip if the toll was set at $8.

But wait, any rate such as $6 or $8 or $10 would only be temporary. The government would raise it year after year. Do you remember when the subway fair was 35 cents? Well, I remember when it was 5 cents a ride. We all know that any toll will not stay at the original rate, but will rise and rise and rise as has happened on current bridges and tunnels .

Too many parts of the city have poor public transportation so people need a car to get around easily and not spend two hours riding the buses and trains to go to work. If one has to bring a car into the city, then a $30 or $40 garage fee will really raise the cost of going to work or visiting a doctor or going to a show or concert.

Friedrich wrote that we have been charged fees for several items to provide that sustainable revenue source in the past. There was a $15 NYC Auto Use Tax, then there was the $30 Metropolitan Commuter Supplemental Registration Fee for all registered vehicles, then the MTA sales tax surcharge added to the sales tax, and then a 50 cent taxi surcharge on every cab ride.

Get ready. If the governor tries to add tolls, then be ready to complain.

Civics are concerned that “hot spots” could be flooded by a new Sandy

Civic leaders met with legislators and city officials to visit “hot spots” where a new Super Storm like Sandy could cause flooding due to a storm surge.

There was a call for possible rock jetties, berms, storm walls, bulkheads, sand replacement, and off-shore reefs in places such as Broad Channel, Breezy Point, and Rockaway. It seems that nothing has been built in the five years since Sandy, although I believe many houses have been raised on stilts.

Queens Civic Congress leaders were present at this event. We should be able to continue living in these areas for years to come if we just do some preventive building. On the other hand, someday we may have to prohibit some building in areas which continually flood like the Army Corps of Engineers did in certain areas along the Mississippi River.

Additional information on bus lanes

In my column on the SBS lanes a couple of weeks ago I forgot to mention that if the city would only enforce no parking in current bus stops, then the regular buses could travel faster.

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