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Photo courtesy of Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato
Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato is advocating to get rid of the Cross Bay Bridge toll.

Local lawmakers expressed their support on Wednesday for a proposed bill that would do away with the toll on the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge connecting the Rockaways to mainland Queens.

Introduced by Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, the bill is sponsored by Senator Joseph P. Addabbo and co-sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Miller. The toll on the Cross Bay Bridge was implemented to cover the cost of construction in 1970, and started at $0.10 per trip.  The toll has since grown to $4.25 per trip.

“The toll has outlived its original stated purpose of paying for the bridge, and has absolutely no stated current purpose besides supplementing the MTA’s budget on the backs of New Yorkers,” Pheffer Amato said in a statement. “I’m absolutely certain the cost of ending this onerous toll would be made up several times over the freedom and ease of access it would bring to South Queens and the Rockaway Peninsula.”

This past legislative session, Pheffer Amato secured the “Rockaway Rebate” for another year, which reimburses Rockaway Peninsula and Broad Channel residents for trips across the Cross Bay Bridge. Local residents of Rockaway and Broad Channel currently pay the toll multiple times every day in order to get to and from work, take kids to and from school or run errands.

According to Pheffer Amato, the toll has the impact of dividing communities, artificially creating economic barriers, hampering tourism and keeping the area most impacted by Superstorm Sandy from affecting a full and thorough economic recovery.

Senator Addabbo agreed, describing the toll as “a significant reason why this isolated area of Queens has not realized its full economic potential, by repelling developers and retail businesses.”

“Charging residents of Queens to access areas of their own borough is just wrong,” Addabbo said

Assemblyman Miller, who wrote a letter to MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast in 2016 advocating for seniors to cross the bridge toll-free, continued his support of that cause.

“It is especially unfair to our veterans and seniors who are on a set income and won’t be able to enjoy what their community has to offer,” Miller said.

The Cross Bay Bridge toll is something politicians have been fighting to eliminate for years, which Pheffer Amato acknowledged, but she said “the time is now to end it.”

“With the Governor promising to fund MTA, there must be additional funding provided this session for the Cross Bay Bridge because we have suffered for too long,” Pheffer Amato said.

As of Jan. 3, the bill is being reviewed within the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee.

 

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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. January 13, 2018 / 10:04AM
The Ghost of Robert Moses has struck again.
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