Cuomo accelerates Verrazano projects in advance of “Summer of Hell”

Trying to get out of New York City’s “Summer of Hell.”

A new Brooklyn-bound high-occupancy vehicle/bus lane is opening ahead of schedule on the upper level of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The new seventh lane — which debuts on Friday, June 22 at 6 a.m., will ease congestion and provide more efficient travel from Staten Island to the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel for both New Yorkers and visitors.

The construction of the new HOV/bus lane is part of a $235.7 million Verrazano-Narrows Bridge upper level deck replacement project, in which the original 1960s-era roadway will be replaced by a lighter-weight, longer-lasting steel orthotropic deck.

New signage will also be added, along with finger joint systems at the anchorages and rehabilitated towers, and new drainage and LED roadway lighting.

In addition, cashless tolling will begin on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and cash will no longer be accepted, beginning on Saturday, July 8. Cashless tolling is being implemented around the state as a more convenient and cost effective way to travel New York’s crossings.

With cashless tolling, the goal is to enhance traffic flow, reduce congestion and decrease commute times for both New Yorkers and visitors, who have been frustrated in recent months by traffic backups that spill onto local streets in the vicinity of the span.

“The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a vital route for New York City, and by opening the new HOV/bus lane ahead of the busy summer season, we will help alleviate congestion and streamline travel for commuters,” Cuomo said. “This project is part of the state’s larger efforts to accelerate construction projects and enhance transportation infrastructure across New York, and with the addition of cashless tolling in July, we will meet the demands of travelers for decades to come.”

“HOV access across the Verrazano Bridge has been sorely needed for decades,” added Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis. “HOV and cashless tolling should alleviate the bottlenecks to which we’ve become all too accustomed, and finally bring some relief to many who face an arduous daily trip.”

“This is a welcome step to improve traffic flow across Staten Island’s only physical connection to New York City,” added Congressmember Dan Donovan.

Cuomo is encouraging drivers to sign up for an E-ZPass and save 30-50 percent on tolls. Tags cost $30 and come with $20 in prepaid tolls and have a $10 refundable deposit, which is waived if the tag is linked to a credit card or bank account for automated replenishment. E-ZPass tags can also be purchased at local DMV offices.

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