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Verrazano Bridge Two-Way Tolling Could Return When Fare Booths Disappear

By Nicholas Rizzi | April 17, 2017 6:07pm
 Rep. Dan Donovan called on the MTA to study the impact of bringing two-way tolling back to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Rep. Dan Donovan called on the MTA to study the impact of bringing two-way tolling back to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

STATEN ISLAND — The MTA could bring two-way tolling back to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge after it ditches toll booths this summer, which would make Brooklyn-bound drivers have to pay their half.

Rep. Dan Donovan wrote a letter to the MTA to study potential traffic revenue impacts to remove one-way tolling on the bridge when the agency switches to cashless tolling in the summer to alleviate congestion.

"As the Verrazano moves to cashless tolling, transportation stakeholders have suggested it may be prudent to return to the two-way tolling structure," Donovan wrote in a May 17 letter to the agency.

"The stakeholders argue that cashless tolling eliminated the potential for congestion at toll booths, and a system charging half the current toll in each direction might be more equitable for travelers."

In January, the MTA switched several bridges and tunnels around the city to the cashless system and planned to bring it to the Verrazano in the summer. All MTA bridges and tunnels will make the switch by the end of the year.

Drivers can either pay by E-ZPass or be mailed a bill to the address linked to their license plate to pay the cash fare on crossings.

Currently, only drivers heading to Staten Island have to pay the $17 cash toll and no money is collected on the Brooklyn-bound side of the bridge.

Drivers with E-ZPass currently pay $11.52 to cross and Staten Islanders get a discounted rate of $5.74 to $6.84 per crossing depending on how frequently they use the bridge.

The bridge originally opened with two-way tolling but switched to one-way in 1986 after then Congressman Guy Molinari passed a federal law to force the MTA to make the change, the New York Times reported.

Congressman Jarred Nadler has pushed for years to bring back the two-way tolling and, thanks to a recent push by Brooklyn's Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman, Donovan has started to consider the proposal, a spokesman for Donovan said.

The MTA wrote back earlier this month that it would be willing to look into the proposal, but it would need federal action to change.

A spokesman for the MTA said they are currently evaluating Donovan's request to study the proposal.

► READ MORE: Tolls Rise at City Bridges and Tunnels

In his letter, Donovan asked the agency to find out if the two-way tolling would lead to drivers from New Jersey getting into New York through the borough, if it would impact the agency's revenue and more.

He wrote he would make his decision to support the proposal based on the MTA's findings.