Rockland Officials: No Toll Hikes to Finance New Bridge

Local politicians urge the state to seek different funding

With the public comment period over for , a common thread connects the thoughts and criticisms of Rockland officials—don't finance the new span through excessive toll hikes.

County executive C. Scott Vanderhoef, Rockland Legislature Chairwoman Harriet Cornell and others all touched on financial details—or lack of—tied to the new crossing, which is expected to cost about $5.2 billion and .

Though Vanderhoef supports governor Andrew Cuomo's decision to expedite the building process, he sounded off on the fiscal ambiguity.

"The lack of any financing plan is disturbing and makes the DEIS deficient in this regard," he wrote.

While state thruway and transportation officals , noting the new Tappan Zee Bridge will be finacned entirely by taxpayers, Cuomo is looking into the idea again, according to Bloomberg News.

Other financing options include toll-backed bonds and a $2 billion federal loan.

Bridge officials have not commented on the possibility or details of toll hikes, but other groups have speculated. In the February issue of AAA's New York Car and Travel, a liberal estimate hovers around a $25 increase.

Vanderhoef also calls for toll-exemption for all Rockland-owned buses, and a discounted toll rate for Rockland County residents with E-ZPass. He also suggests two-percent of toll revenue be allocated to the Rockland County Department of Public Transportation to supplement current and future bus transit options.

Cornell, in her missive, noted the lack of financing information could translate into hefty toll hikes.

"A huge hike in tolls would be disproportionately borne by Rockland commuters
who cross the bridge daily to reach jobsites and who have no realistic alternate route," she said.

An estimated 42,000 Rockland commuters use the bridge each day—about 30-percent of all daily traffic on the span.

Cornell said a pricey commuter tax would hinder Rockland's development, and suggests—like Vanderhoef—that Rockland residents be granted a reduced rate.

Nyack officials are wary of increased tolls, too—mayor Jen Laird-White an egregious toll uptick would make Rocklanders "prisoners" in their own county.

In South Nyack, residents and officials are of the span, as the state aims to , some of which are historic.

Richard Kavesh April 05, 2012 at 11:48 AM
There are MANY deficiencies in the DEIS on TZII, not just the lack of a concrete financing plan. A few days ago Riverkeeper pointed them out in a press release and a VERY detailed document prepared by their environmental lawyers at Pace University (see below). No one supports a toll increase, least of all those of us who have no choice but to cross the TZ every day, but actions speak louder than words. Rather than just complaining about the higher prices, I believe that officials representing Rockland County, Westchester County, Nyack, South Nyack, Tarrytown, Grandview, and of course Riverkeeper and any other affected parties should sue the state calling for a halt to TZII until the very legitimate concerns in the Riverkeeper report are answered if not resolved. After advocating mass transit on TZII for 10 years, the Thruway and the DOT dropped it like a hot potato when they announced the new "Hudson River Crossing." They've demonstrated that they don't care what we say about building TZII with mass transit right from the start. A lawsuit by a consortium of affected parties may well be the only kind of language they understand. htttp://www.riverkeeper.org/news-events/news/preserve-river-ecology/riverkeeper-criticizes-environmental-review-of-tappan-zee-bridge-replacement/ http://www.riverkeeper.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/20120330-TZB-Riverkeeper-Comments-on-DEIS-FINAL.pdf
Deborah Perri April 05, 2012 at 12:50 PM
A 20th century bridge in the 21st century and a toll hike to boot? Once again Rockland residents are left out in the cold. Instead of a state of the art project we are getting the old political grandstanding once again. All politicians at every level are responsible for this. What a sell out it is!
Mike April 05, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Since RC and other upstate county residenst have to pay an MTA tax for NYC subway and busses that we never use, perhaps we should now have the lower counties subsidize the new bridge with an MTA tax on mass transit riders.
Raymond Padilla April 06, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Move out of Rockland County.That's the only answer. There is no real industry in that county, taxes are rape, the education is poor, the lack of an efficient mass transit system to Westchester and NYC is dismal, and every one is pissing in the wind about the "new" TZB. Someone needs to just build light rail with a park and ride on the Palisades Parkway and have it connect to the terminal at the GWB with its own independent crossing. Better yet, build a bridge midway between the TZB and the GWB connecting the Palisades Parkway and the Cross County Parkway and have the light rail connect to the Yonkers Metro. Forget about Rockland and TZB. Rockland county used to have a future as the "upstate get away suburb location" to NYC. Now it's just another upstate location far far away from the capital of the world.


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