The bridge is the only tolled intra-borough or intra-county span in New York.
By Forum Staff
Area elected officials are once again pushing legislation aimed at killing the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge toll once and for all.
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach) recently introduced a bill that would prohibit the imposition and collection of a fare, toll, rental, rate, charge or other fee on the span. The proposed law is sponsored in the State Senate by Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach), and cosponsored by Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven).
“The Cross Bay Memorial Bridge is the only tolled intra-borough or intra-county bridge in our state,” Pheffer Amato said. “The toll has outlived its original stated purpose of paying for the bridge, has absolutely no stated current purpose besides supplementing the MTA’s budget on the backs of New Yorkers. I’m absolutely certain the cost of ending this onerous toll would be made up several times over the freedom and ease of access it would bring to South Queens and the Rockaway Peninsula.”
Last year, Pheffer Amato secured for another year the “Rockaway Rebate,” which reimburses Rockaway Peninsula and Broad Channel residents for trips across the bridge to and from mainland Queens. Residents are required to pay the toll, several times a day, in order to get to work and back, transport children to and from school and complete other everyday errands.
“Charging residents of Queens to access areas of their own borough is just wrong,” Addabbo said. “The outdated toll on the Cross Bay Memorial Bridge has not only been an unfair burden to the residents of southern Queens, some of whom work or attend school daily on the peninsula, but a significant reason why this isolated area of Queens has not realized its full economic potential, by repelling developers and retail businesses. I stand beside my colleagues to say the time is now to eliminate the toll on the Cross Bay Memorial Bridge.”
Pheffer Amato noted that in 1939 the New York City Parkway Authority built the Cross Bay Bridge and Parkway along with beach improvements in the Rockaways. This was part of a program to develop Jamaica Bay as a residential and recreational zone, instead of following a previous city plan to develop the area as a large industrial port. The following year, the Parkway Authority was consolidated with the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. In 1970, the consolidated TBTA completed the present Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, a high-level fixed span which permits boats to pass under it without the traffic delays caused by the lifting of a movable bridge. The toll on the Cross Bay Bridge was implemented only to cover the cost of construction, and started at $0.10 per trip. The toll has since ballooned to $4.25.
“The ‘stop the toll issue’ has been around long before me, but the time is now to end it,” Pheffer Amato added. “With the governor promising to fund the MTA, there must be additional funding provided this session for the Cross Bay Bridge because we have suffered for too long, cannot continue to stunt economic growth, and disincentivize freedom of motion within a single borough and state.”