Sen. Andrew Lanza backs $3 toll for Verrazano Bridge

Sen. Andrew Lanza backs $3 toll for Verrazano Bridge

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http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2016/06/sen_andrew_lanza_backs_3_toll.html

By Shane DiMaio

STATEN ISLAND -- Staten Islanders are one step closer to a significantly lessened toll when traveling over the Verrazano-Narrows bridge.

State Sen. Andrew Lanza introduced a bill on June 11 that calls for the implementation of "The Fair Plan" -- a proposal to add tolls to four East River bridges, subsequently decreasing the toll on the Verrazano.

Currently a member of the Senate majority, Lanza's backing is imperative in order to see a decrease in toll prices for Staten Island residents who frequently commute through Brooklyn.

"For too long, New Yorkers have tolerated an antiquated and unreliable transit system – and the situation is getting worse, not better," Lanza said in a press release. "Many of our drivers have been punished by an unjust tolling regime where those with the worst transit access are paying the highest tolls, while others who also benefit from our city's road and bridge infrastructure, travel for free."

Under the current construct of "The Fair Deal," the standard toll (now $16 cash) would be $11 and the $11.06 now paid for EZ Pass would drop to $6.08.

The Island resident rates -- which include a 50% discount -- would drop the price for one trip down to $3.04.

Secondly, Staten Island drivers who pay a toll on one bridge would have two hours to get to another bridge before they'd be charged there.

"Not only will this bill create a fairer tolling system," Lanza said, "but it will generate the kind of revenue we need to be able to bring new transit service to those communities who have long suffered without it."

An estimated $1 billion would be generated for infrastructure -- including bus and subway projects -- in transit-starved parts of the city.

The overall goal of the plan is to prevent "toll shopping" into Manhattan's Central Business District. The uniform tolling into Manhattan would allow for a smoother commute by cutting outer-borough congestion generated by drivers trying to funnel into the city's currently free bridges.

Lanza says he plans to use the coming months to reconcile the few differences between the Assembly version of the bill, carried by Assemblyman Rodriguez, and his own -- focusing on the discount percentage for Manhattan's central business district.

He hopes to pass a unified version by the 2017 Legislative Session. 

"I'm pleased that Assemblyman Rodriguez's bill and my bill are very close," he added.

"I am confident that working together, and with the help of the Move NY coalition's 75-plus partners, we will at last bring about an effective solution to New York's many transportation challenges."

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