Two-way tolling returning to bridge, but when?

MTA to take steps before adjusting pay system

BOROUGHWIDE — Drivers who cheered when Congress approved a measure last month to reinstate two-way tolls on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge might want to save their applause. It’s not going to happen for a while.

There are steps that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has to take before a two-way toll system is put in, officials said. The MTA oversees bridges and tunnels in New York City.

For one thing, while Congress has approved the measure and President Trump has signed it into law, the MTA hasn’t approved it yet. That is expected to happen but there is no timetable, officials said. In addition, the MTA will have to make adjustments to the bridge’s toll plaza before drivers can expect two-way tolling.

“We must follow a process that includes, but is not limited to, seeking MTA board approval for implementation, as well as structural changes to the facility,” Meredith Daniels, an MTA spokesperson, told the Home Reporter.

“We are in the early stages of this process,” Daniels added.

An aide to U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler told Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst that two-way tolling, sometimes called split-tolling, “will begin at some point this year.”

Nadler championed two-way tolling and worked with U.S. Reps. Max Rose and Nydia Velazquez to get it included in a $1.4 trillion government spending bill. The legislation includes funding for the departments of Defense, Education, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services.

Under the one-way toll system, put in place by congressional legislation in the 1980s, the toll is paid by motorists traveling westbound (toward Staten Island). Eastbound motorists (those traveling toward Brooklyn) drive for free.

The one-way, non-discounted toll is currently $19. Under split tolling, drivers will pay $9.50 in each direction. Staten Island residents and drivers with E-ZPass get a discount on the tolls.

The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Staten Island, is the only bridge in the country with a federally mandated one-way toll system.

Elected officials charged that the MTA loses millions of dollars in tolls each year because of truckers who drive eastbound over the bridge and then avoid the toll on the return trip by driving through Manhattan and crossing into New Jersey.

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