A bridge too far

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This throwback got thrown out.

A Brooklyn councilman asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to honor the 50th anniversary of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge by rolling the toll back to its 1964 price of $1.00 per round trip Nov. 21, but the agency — which controls the city’s bridges and tunnels — told the councilman that’s one bridge it won’t cross.

“I asked them to roll back the toll for the 50th anniversary, but they said ‘Try the 500th anniversary,’ ” Gentile joked at a meeting of Community Board 10.

The Authority’s board of directors establishes tolls for bridges and tunnels. Earlier this year, it authorized a rebate program to lessen tolls for Staten Islanders and commercial vehicles that use the bridge extensively, a precedent Gentile pointed to when arguing for the throwback rate.

An Authority spokesman said the approval process for rolling back the tolls, even for just one day, would take months.

“Any new MTA rebate program would require an analysis that would take months,” said spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

About 173,000 vehicles have crossed the bridge so far this year, and the Authority collects an average $936,000 daily, according to Ortiz.

The request to roll back tolls is part of the councilman’s larger push for more anniversary celebrations on the Brooklyn side of the Narrows. Staten Islanders are getting the lion’s share of transit-agency-sponsored events, and the councilman said he wants that to change.

“The bridge has two sides — I’m asking them to give us at least as many types of ceremonies and exhibits as Staten Island,” Gentile said.

Among the events currently planned are:

• An Authority-organized ceremony at the Overlook on Staten Island on Nov. 21, 50 years after the bridge opened to traffic. U.S. Army officials will fire cannon volleys from both sides of the bridge and the Fire Department will provide a water boat display in the harbor.

• An Authority-and-Staten-Island-museum sponsored exhibit on the bridge’s construction, running through year’s end. The exhibit will move to the Transit Museum in Brooklyn at an unspecified date, according to the Authority.

• Journalist Gay Talese, who chronicled the bridge’s construction in his book “The Bridge,” is reissuing the book and is slated to sign copies at the Transit Museum.

Gentile is not planning any events of his own, because he said it is the Authority’s job. The councilman charged that events at the Transit Museum don’t make sense given the Museum’s location seven miles from the span in Downtown.

“That’s not around the corner,” he said. “Who from this neighborhood that wants to celebrate the bridge is going to go down to Borough Hall to the Transit Museum?”

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Or from Yellow Hook says:
Of course not - the MTA has already spent that money.

50th Anniversary of being lied to - "the bridge will be free when it's paid off" when in reality the bridge will be free when the bond (that the people floated) is paid off - except it never is paid off, it gets reissued.
Sept. 24, 2014, 7:11 am
jjm from c. hill says:
i dont take the verrazano when i drive anyway so it doesnt affect me. i always go the toll-free routes like whenever i go to nj, i know longer take the tpke or gsp. its either route 1 or 9, depending on the destination.
Sept. 24, 2014, 9:55 am
ty from pps says:
Gentile asked but he came up short.
Sept. 24, 2014, 11:18 am
Rob from NY says:
Let's make everything free on all anniversaries!

Subways and buses? All free.

Hot dog vendors? Have to give away dogs on their cart's anniversary.
Sept. 24, 2014, 1:53 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
"the Authority collects an average $936,000 daily.",

= $341,640,000. per year. Wonder what the daily cost to maintain it is minus the toll system.

It cost $320,000,000. in 1964 dollars to build.

Has there been a good return on investment on those bonds?
Sept. 24, 2014, 2:27 pm
jjm from c. hill says:
I refuse to give the MTA any of my money. If anything, ill make sure i get it back at the end of the day.
Sept. 24, 2014, 4:43 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
All tolled crossings and highways should be free. Their original purpose was to pay off the bonds and remove the tolls once they were paid off. BTW, this was meant as a promise, but I guess it can always be broken by crony politicians and those in an agency that can benefit off of them. Making them as a revenue source has only made them go up even higher especially if they are going to anything where the tolls aren't. Another thing is that it's the tolls that really make the most for the MTA, not the fares which is why they are hiked almost constantly and they don't go up in quarters like the fare hikes, which are way smaller. One other thing, a good number of Staten Island residents want that toll on the VNB to be removed, because they are the ones hit the most by it.
Sept. 24, 2014, 7:12 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
When I said free, I didn't mean that it should be totally free, just on crossing them right there when they are already being paid for via taxes for infrastructure.
Sept. 24, 2014, 8:31 pm
Mike from Maspeth says:
It is incorrect to say that all tolled crossings and highways should be free. Many of these pieces of infrastructure continue to have tolls to pay for maintenance and improvements. If you don't plan for upkeep, your bridge falls down. Did'ja ever think of that?
Sept. 25, 2014, 9:52 am
ty from pps says:
Tal -- How can you always be oh so very wrong in everything you write? You must have a thought every now and again that comports with reality, right?
Sept. 25, 2014, 10:26 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Mike if there are no tolls, than you are eligible for highway money - the tax money collected from fuel taxes. But that gets raided and put in the trough for the piggies, so it doesn't go to the roads as you've been told.

Put a toll on the road - no federal hiway money.
Sept. 25, 2014, 2:12 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The highways, roads, and crossings are already being paid for via taxes for infrastructure, so they are being paid for even if there isn't a toll. The tolls are just a form of double tipping. Their purpose was to pay of the bonds and then remove them once they were paid off, not to be used as a revenue service. BTW, the state of NY has the highest tolls and gas taxes, but the infrastructure it's supposed to go to is still in bad shape, which makes me question where much of it is really going to hence there shouldn't be any increases in that. I could never understand why taxes that are supposed to go towards driving go to fund mass transit, which is why it's perversely funded by those who have little to no access to it.
Sept. 25, 2014, 7:15 pm
ty from pps says:
You mean the magical highway money that can't actually cover the costs of the existing highways and bridges? The highway money that's collected from an absurdly low gas tax that hasn't changed in 21 years? Do you really think NY and NJ would have an increased level of funding from the non-existent excess highway funds if the tolls were removed from the bridges and tunnels....?

You're almost as out of touch as Tal.

Even if it were pegged only to inflation, the federal gas tax should have risen from 18.4 cents per gallon to at least 29.2 cents per gallon. And this doesn't even take into consideration higher fuel economy (reducing consumption) but increasing wear and tear on roads, deferred maintenance on bridges and tunnels, etc. etc. etc.

So, yeah. You tell me how the Verrazano bridge would be maintained using federal gas tax money if they got rid of tolls? hmmm?
Sept. 25, 2014, 7:25 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- That is just 100% false! Everything you just typed is not true. But I guess we shouldn't expect anything from you that is based on reality.

"I could never understand why taxes that are supposed to go towards driving go to fund mass transit..." Oh Lordy! I'm so surprised you don't understand that. Soooooo shocked.
Sept. 25, 2014, 7:28 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, tolls go up much more higher and more frequently than fares ever do. As a matter of fact, whenever the MTA talks about what to increase, tolls are always the ones that go up the most. Meanwhile, transit fares stay relatively low, and it actually gets heavily subsidized from what us motorists are paying for that's supposed to got towards where the tolls are placed on, and the same goes for such taxes as the gas taxes. Let's not forget what was the goal of congestion pricing and that was once again to fund mass transit on the backs of those who are almost isolated from it, and now you know why it lost, because it was seen as a regressive tax. More importantly, I don't see why the tolls and gas taxes should go up higher when they are barely going to where they are supposed to go to, and that's why there is a lot of opposition to ever raising it. Just to clear something up, I never said the infrastructure for driving should be totally free, they should just be covered by the taxes that go towards them and that's about it, so no more double tipping. In a way, they are being paid for, just not directly.
Sept. 25, 2014, 8:51 pm
ty from pps says:
Ladies and Gentlemen... Tal Barzilai!

Tal -- Do you have a show in the Catskills during the summer?
Sept. 25, 2014, 9:12 pm
NH from Fort Greene says:
Car traffic in Brooklyn -- much of drivers from Staten Island and New Jersey arriving over the Verrazzano -- imposes huge costs on all of us who live here.

We should not only reject Gentile's crazy plan, we should roll back Governor Cuomo's toll relief and double the undiscounted tolls to $40 per car.
Sept. 26, 2014, 9:42 am
total from parkchester says:
$40. per car? How much for trucks?

Waaaahhhhh why do organic free range fair market apples cost so much?
Sept. 26, 2014, 2:17 pm
ty from pps says:
total -- Do you know what costs freight operators the most? Hint: It ain't tolls or fuel.
Sept. 26, 2014, 2:47 pm
NH from Fort Greene says:
Things that drivers from Staten Island and New Jersey who drive over the Verrazzano inflict on Brooklynites:

- traffic congestion
- noise / honking
- cars crashing into buildings
- cars crashing into people
- elevated asthma rates among children
- global warming / hurricane Sandy
- war in the middle east (maybe?)

If we restore toll booths in both directions and increase the price, it'll mean less cars and better quality of life for everyone in the borough.
Sept. 26, 2014, 4:24 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Sorry NH, but this will do more harm for the MTA than it will help them. It's one thing to restore the toll in both ways, but to increase even more will cause even more opposition. The current toll is already high enough. If anything, motorists using it need a break. BTW, Staten Island residents have been long fighting to remove that expensive toll, not keep it. Overall, making it higher will really cause a lot to avoid it, and the MTA will fail to make a revenue in that. On a side note, I talked to those people in the Catskills, and they were actually looking for ty, not me for stand up comedy.
Sept. 26, 2014, 5:52 pm
ty from pps says:
i sit down when i do comedy. i stand for nothing.
Sept. 29, 2014, 8:33 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
All bridges, roads, streets, tunnels, should be free, and parking should also be free. The automobile makes our society possible, and without it, we'd be living in the stone ages. On the other hand, pedestrians and cyclists should pay tolls, b/c motorists already pay far more than their fare share through the taxes paid for licenses and the excise fees on gasoline, etc. These costs should also be drastickly reduced. Staten Islanders pay more tax than do their brothers in Brooklyn, so the latter should put up or shut up.
Sept. 30, 2014, 1:21 pm

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