TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Efforts are already underway to stop the proposed tripling of tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge even as three former Westchester County executives have backed plans to use tolls to help pay for a new bridge.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner announced he was organizing a community group to lobby against the proposed increase. Feiner also hopes to get substantial toll discounts for Westchester and Rockland County residents who use the bridge.
“The Tappan Zee Bridge should not be a bridge for only the rich,” he said.
The organizing meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 15 at Greenburgh Town Hall.
State officials have released several toll options to help pay for a new Tappan Zee Bridge, with the favored plan expected to increase general tolls to $14, up from $5 currently, and commuter tolls to $8.40, up from the current $3.
In addition to reducing overall tolls, Feiner said he wants to see discount cards available for people on fixed incomes.
The costs of the new bridge should be shared statewide, Feiner said. He cited projects such as the Grand Island Bridge in Buffalo and the Central Avenue Bridge replacement in Yonkers.
“The toll structure across the state has always been based on total costs along the whole system,” Feiner said. “Costs for projects in one location have never been charged solely to that location, but rather aggregated across the system as a whole.”
State and former county officials, however, note that tolls will increase regardless of whether the old bridge is rehabilitated or completely rebuilt. Keeping the old bridge, they note, still means a hefty price tag to maintain it.
“At the end of the day, if you are a regular commuter the difference between keeping the old, broken-down bridge and buying a new, better bridge is just around a dollar,” former Westchester County Executive Al Del Bello said. “After all the money we have wasted on maintaining the old bridge, its finally time to invest in building a new, safer bridge that relieves congestion and lasts 100 years.”