Spring 2002, p.10

Mayor Calls for East River Bridge Tolls: Gores Motoring's Sacred Cow

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Buried within the financial plan for the city of New York, 2002-2006 at the bottom of the page labeled "Out-Year Gap Closing Plan," is a box labeled "Congestion Pricing and EZ-Pass Initiatives." T.A. unearthed this point and reported to the Daily News and The New York Times that this plan is a very quiet way of saying that the Mayor is seeking to toll the four East River Bridges.

The Mayor's plan estimates that, by 2004, tolls on the free crossings would generate $100 million; by 2005, $500 million; and, by 2006, $800 million. However, tolls will require state legislature approval-a significant political feat, given the fanatical sense of entitlement of NYC and NY State motorists. Yet the City and State's desperate fiscal condition means that politicians are under intense pressure to raise money.
The Daily News and Newsday strongly supported the tolling proposal, opining that "tolling the East River Bridges could [ease congestion and reduce pollution as well as] raise revenue to maintain the spans and expand the City's transportation infrastructure."

Not surprisingly, critics came out with a barrage of rotten canned baloney, claiming that such tolls are unfair, cause big back-ups and wreck the economy. Such critics, blinded by their own free rides, seem not to comprehend that hundreds of thousands of transit riders pay $600 to $800 a year to travel into and out of Manhattan; new, EZ-Pass-based non-stop tolling technologies make toll plazas unnecessary; and that economic growth seems to have no connection with tolls, since Staten Island-NYC's fastest growing borough-is surrounded by tolls.

"Entitlement" is the appropriate word to describe the mindset of critics of bridge tolls. Where is their comparable sense of outrage about tolls on all of the crossings linking The Bronx to Queens (Triborough, Whitestone and Throgs Neck)? Where is their hysterical reaction to the tolls on the Queens-to-Queens crossing on the Cross-Bay Bridge? Lastly, where is their answer to choking traffic congestion back-ups at East River bridge approaches and crumbling roads?