Locals Lobby Against Tappan Zee Bridge Toll Hike

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Efforts are under way to stop the proposed tripling of tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Efforts are under way to stop the proposed tripling of tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Photo Credit: Meredith Shamburger

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.”

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Meredith, how many times are you going to run the same story, differing only by headline? Feiner, in turn, seeks to solidify his power base by appointing every Greenburgh resident to a committee, commission or clique reporting to him. Taxpayers should take note in the 2013 Budget of increased expenditures in stationery cost lines: these due to the printing 10,000 certificates of appreciation.

"If you have built a boat to take you to the greener side,
And if the boat is built of every lie you ever lied,
You'll never reach the Promised Land of Love, I guarantee
'Cause lies cannot hold water and you'll sink into the sea
Cross over the bridge, cross over the bridge
Change your reckless way of livin', cross over the bridge
Leave your fickle past behind you,
And true romance will find you,
Brother, cross over the bridge"

Cross Over the Bridge -- Patti Page

Paul Feiner again sticking his nose in other government's business while he neglects his own bailiwick. These new ideas are launched by the Town Supervisor at the rate of one every six weeks and curiously they all have one thing in common beside the name Paul Feiner latching onto them. They share the common thread that while Greenburgh goes down the rabbit hole, Feiner becomes more attentive to what's happening elsewhere.

With time running out and the meter ratcheting up, Feiner has yet to make a dent in replacing the lost $1.2 million from his deliberate failure to renew the WESTHelp lease. Each month the 108 units of housing remain vacant, it costs the Town $100,000 of lost revenue; $1.1 million so far and rising. Even the inappropriate and unacceptable Ferncliff College as tenant would bring but $530,000 in rent three years down the line after the 108 units are demolished and the College's buildings are open for business. That means a loss to Greenburgh of over $4 million to reach a stabilized yearly loss of some $400,000.

The sport bubble at the center of the former Frank's Nursery site fiasco will only bring in at best some $150,000 of net revenue and this only in the last years of the 15 year lease. As for the unpaid taxes which led to the Town's foreclosure, kiss them goodbye.

The tennis bubble at Veteran Park is still in its early days of negotiation but this too will not bring in much more than $250,000 yearly.

Add these pipe dreams up and together they don't spell a plus for taxpayers.

Meanwhile, the Town needs to cope with paying itself back the $4 million lent to the Town-run waterworks. Lest you be shedding crocodile tears for Feiner, don't let them get washed away when the rainy day of the Fortress Bible decision arrives with a multi-million dollar uninsured judgment against Greenburgh taxpayers.

But there's good news too. "The Town" is getting $ 1.2 million (over time) from the Valhalla School District. "The Town" is in quotes because this includes everyone but Feiner who worked against this conclusion. "The Town" herein is benefitting from the volunteer (indeed they had to force their way in) efforts of Bob Bernstein and Herb Rosenberg.

So, as he prefers to talk about, with all this "good news" for Greenburgh taxpayers heading their way, this no doubt is solid grounds for Feiner to start worrying about the few Greenburgh taxpayers who commute to and from work over the TZ bridge and are also what Feiner calls living on fixed incomes. A phrase which probably applies to all salaried employees. Unhappy with the proposed commuter rate, Feiner cites a bridge connecting Buffalo, NY with Canada as a valid comparison because economically depressed Buffalo is to be judged the equal of Westchester County. And to be sure, Feiner's already calling for a committee to lobby against the higher commuter rate already proposed. Oh, did I mention that the Buffalo bridge's last section was completed in 1965 and the TZ bridge is about to embark upon a new life some $6 billion later? Naturally Feiner doesn't mention this but heck he doesn't really care about the tired, the sick and the poor; he only cares about getting the Feiner name in front of the public.
Go back and reread what he's doing (or not doing) for the people in his Town; not what he seeks for a few commuters who may have trouble paying the modest increase in the commuter fare. Note: the $14 fare is NOT the commuter fare.
Someone's going to be paying for the new bridge; if not by higher tolls then by higher taxes on gasoline or higher State and Federal taxes. But that's not Feiner's concern or understanding. How could anyone be so unfair as to put a price on seeing Feiner's name in print.

The over $10 million in losses at the beginning of this comment are just the down payment on returning Feiner to office. But I'm told there's something called the "new math". This means that if Feiner can save 100-300 persons maybe $40, that's worth every penny of the $10 million+ in losses is say a four year period.
If 1 + 1 adds up to anything but 2, you're probably an unshakable supporter of Feiner.

Hal Samis