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Thread: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge - Designed by Othmar Ammann

  1. #1

    Default Verrazano-Narrows Bridge - Designed by Othmar Ammann

    Downtown Express
    January 12-18, 2007

    Editorial

    Backup — Verrazano’s toll change gets worse with time

    There are new people in power in Washington and Albany, so bad decisions made two decades ago can be changed. We’re talking about the Verrazano Bridge’s warped tolling system.

    What’s the problem? The bridge tolls are only collected from riders leaving Brooklyn to Staten Island. The result: thousands of truckers and other commuters going from Brooklyn or Long Island to New Jersey avoid the Verrazano toll by taking the Manhattan Bridge into Lower Manhattan and going to one of the free outbound routes – the Holland or Lincoln Tunnels or the George Washington Bridge.

    Truckers can no longer use the Holland on the west end of Lower Manhattan, but they still clog up the east end of Downtown, Brooklyn and Midtown. For large trucks, which can pay almost $5/per axle on top of their $9 base toll, the longer route represents big savings. Motorists and truckers seeking to avoid the one-way toll contribute to making the Canal St. corridor one of the most congested, polluted and dangerous crossings in the city.

    It shouldn’t take a revelation to see that adding pollution to the city’s most clogged areas, and forcing companies with business in Manhattan to waste more time and money, are things to be avoided.

    The Verrazano tolls used to go both ways until 1986 when Staten Island’s representative in Congress, Guy Molinari, and Sen. Al D’Amato, took the highly unusual step of fighting for federal rules on a local tolling decision. The two Republicans later got bipartisan “help” from Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo, who backed this foolish change.

    We were pleased last week when Rep. Jerrold Nadler told us he has not let the issue die and he plans to discuss changing the tolls with Sen. Chuck Schumer soon, although we are a little disappointed that he has not brought the topic up yet. Nadler told us he thinks the “political stars are aligned” for a toll change. We appreciate his advocacy on this issue and hope his optimism is well-placed.

    This change will not happen quickly though. It will also need support in Albany and City Hall. Traffic analyst Brian Ketchum points out that London’s successful congestion pricing system, which has cut down on traffic in the city’s busiest sections, took a five-year, $30-million public education effort before it could be implemented.

    We know there are people reading this saying, “It’s easy for these Downtowners with their great mass transit to back tolls on the other boroughs.”

    Well to that we say the city’s mass transit commuters who pay $2 in MetroCard swipes to get around town should not have to subsidize the driving habits of people, particularly when there is not nearly enough resources to fund all of the needed mass transit improvements. Correcting the misguided one-way Verrazano toll could not only pay for some of these improvements, it would reduce pollution and lower business costs.

    Ketchum, a veteran of New York’s traffic fights, and others are understandably skeptical the Verrazano tolls will be changed. “There hasn’t been any courageous people in government for three decades,” he told us this week. Let’s hope he’s wrong about that and Jerry Nadler is right.

    © 2006 Community Media, LLC

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    Alan Betensley on Wikipedia:


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    Just to set the record straight, former governor Mario Cuomo changed his position vis-a-vis the Verrazano:

    Cuomo Asks Return of 2-Way Toll For Trucks on Verrazano Bridge

    March 4, 1988
    By JAMES BARRON,
    SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES; Metropolitan Desk
    Late City Final Edition, Section B, Page 3, Column 1, 339 words

    DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - LEAD: Hoping to ease traffic jams, cut pollution and gain at least $3 million in lost revenue, Governor Cuomo today proposed reinstating two-way tolls for trucks crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

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    Traffic in Manhattan isn't going to change one bit by reinstating the two-way toll between Brooklyn and Staten Island.
    I worked on King Street for 16 years and saw the mess created by the bottlenecks at the Holland Tunnel every single day.

    Two southbound lanes on Varick Street merge with two westbound lanes on Broome Street, merge with two westbound lanes on Canal Street, merge with two eastbound lanes on Canal Street, merge with two northbound lanes on Hudson Street. All of that traffic enters the tunnel on two lanes.
    On top of that, everyone blocks-the-box.
    That's the problem, not a one-way toll 16 miles away.


    BTW, the Verrazano Bridge toll subsidizes LIRR and Metro North - two services that are totally useless to Staten Island's residents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by splicing View Post
    I worked on King Street for 16 years and saw the mess created by the bottlenecks at the Holland Tunnel every single day.
    All your time on King St was after the one-way toll was initiated, so you have no basis for comparison.

    I've worked in the area since the early 70s, and the change in traffic was almost immediate. Within a year, all the truckers were clued-in.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    All your time on King St was after the one-way toll was initiated, so you have no basis for comparison.

    I've worked in the area since the early 70s, and the change in traffic was almost immediate. Within a year, all the truckers were clued-in.
    The trucks are gone and the traffic is still there. There's the comparison.

    Trucks and cars will still need to get in and out of Manhattan regardless of the expense.

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    The trucks are not gone. They still cross the Manhattan Bridge and head cross town and up 9A. Because of the axle fees, the one-way toll attracts a higher percentage of large trucks.

    The trucks are gone and the traffic is still there. There's the comparison
    No one is suggesting that restoring two-way tolls is going to eliminate traffic, but the last thing you need in a high traffic environment is extra 50 ft trucks that have trouble getting across intersections.

    The point is that the one-way toll adds truck traffic to Lower Manhattan streets.

  8. #8

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    The point is that the one-way toll adds truck traffic to Lower Manhattan streets.
    OK, let's say that the two-way toll is restored.
    What changes will the trucks make to their routes?

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    The trucks that would normally take the shorter (or faster) route across Staten Island would do so. If the route is faster or shorter across Manhattan, then that's the way they will go.

    That's how it was before 1986. This has been studied to death; it's not rocket science.

    If, as you say, the two-way toll will accomplish nothing, what's the big deal about restoring it - like the other intracity crossings?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    The trucks that would normally take the shorter (or faster) route across Staten Island would do so. If the route is faster or shorter across Manhattan, then that's the way they will go.

    That's how it was before 1986. This has been studied to death; it's not rocket science.

    If, as you say, the two-way toll will accomplish nothing, what's the big deal about restoring it - like the other intracity crossings?
    The big deal is that Staten Island's residents will pay the price, again.

    Every other borough's residents have the choice of several FREE routes to travel intracity - which is not so on Staten Island.

    If people belive that tolls are useful in reducing traffic, then why not advocate tolls for all Jersey-bound routes, and the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Queensborough Bridges?

    You're right, it's not rocket science. The trucks will indeed use the shorter and faster routes regardless of the tolls because it is far more expensive to sit in traffic then to avoid them. The traffic that exists in Manhattan will never change because it's necessary for business.

    My point is that a two-way toll on the Verrazano will only further burden Staten Island and resolve nothing in Manhattan.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by splicing View Post
    If people belive that tolls are useful in reducing traffic, then why not advocate tolls for all Jersey-bound routes, and the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Queensborough Bridges?
    Great idea !!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by splicing View Post
    The big deal is that Staten Island's residents will pay the price, again.
    The bridge was a boon to Staten Island, moreso than to any other borough. Two-edged sword.

    Every other borough's residents have the choice of several FREE routes to travel intracity - which is not so on Staten Island.
    The ferry is free.

    If people belive that tolls are useful in reducing traffic, then why not advocate tolls for all Jersey-bound routes, and the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Queensborough Bridges?
    Who's not advocating tolls for the East River? The problem is that if this discussion was about reducing traffic by putting tolls on the East River bridges, someone could make a similar statement to yours, just switch Manhattan for Verrazano.

    You're right, it's not rocket science. The trucks will indeed use the shorter and faster routes regardless of the tolls because it is far more expensive to sit in traffic then to avoid them.
    If it's not rocket science, why do you still fail to grasp that that's not what's happening.

    The traffic that exists in Manhattan will never change because it's necessary for business.
    We are not talking about the traffic that goes to Manhattan, but traffic that goes through it instead of the normal route through Staten Island.

    My point is that a two-way toll on the Verrazano will only further burden Staten Island and resolve nothing in Manhattan.
    Well, at least you finally admitted that your point is about Staten Island, not about any effect it would or would not have in Manhattan.

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    The bridge was a boon to Staten Island, moreso than to any other borough. Two-edged sword.
    Economic, yes.
    Quality of life, no.

    The ferry is free.
    True, but cars are no longer allowed on the ferry - which is the meat of this thread.

    Well, at least you finally admitted that your point is about Staten Island, not about any effect it would or would not have in Manhattan.
    Of course it is.
    But, if you believe that my agenda is to screw Manhattan's residents, you're wrong.
    If Manhattan's residents weren't guilty of the reverse, they'd advocate for Jersey-bound tolls on the Holland, Lincoln, and GW to test their beliefs instead of pushing their representatives to reverse one of the best traffic solutions for Staten Island in history.

    Now, to address your other points, please consider this:

    A truck's home base is somewhere south of NYC. It takes a route through SI (over the VZ) to make a delivery anywhere in Brooklyn. On its return trip back, why would it traverse through Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge, across Canal Street, up 9A, and through the Lincoln Tunnel?
    Every segment of this route is infamous for traffic.
    It is far less expensive (driver's salary + fuel costs + loss of productivity) and sensible to just return back over the VZ and pay the toll - which IS what's happening.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rapunzel View Post
    Just to set the record straight, former governor Mario Cuomo changed his position vis-a-vis the Verrazano:

    Cuomo Asks Return of 2-Way Toll For Trucks on Verrazano Bridge

    March 4, 1988
    By JAMES BARRON,
    SPECIAL TO THE NEW YORK TIMES; Metropolitan Desk
    Late City Final Edition, Section B, Page 3, Column 1, 339 words

    DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - LEAD: Hoping to ease traffic jams, cut pollution and gain at least $3 million in lost revenue, Governor Cuomo today proposed reinstating two-way tolls for trucks crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
    Thanks for reminding what an ass Mario Cuomo was. I am so glad he is not in the office anymore. He turned New York City and New York state into high-taxed welfare capital of the US.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by splicing View Post
    Economic, yes.
    Quality of life, no.
    Again, two-edged sword.

    True, but cars are no longer allowed on the ferry - which is the meat of this thread.
    That will change when the terminal is complete.

    If Manhattan's residents weren't guilty of the reverse, they'd advocate for Jersey-bound tolls on the Holland, Lincoln, and GW to test their beliefs instead of pushing their representatives to reverse one of the best traffic solutions for Staten Island in history.
    It was eliminated because the tunnels would back up and spill over into Manhattan streets. Both sides of the Verrazano connect to expressways.

    A truck's home base is somewhere south of NYC. It takes a route through SI (over the VZ) to make a delivery anywhere in Brooklyn. On its return trip back, why would it traverse through Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge, across Canal Street, up 9A, and through the Lincoln Tunnel?
    Did I say it was all trucks? What about trucks east and west? The fact that you acknowledge a two-way toll would increase traffic on Staten Island is an admission that it would decrease it somewhere else.

    The traffic should flow along a natural route, not distorted by a toll structure that make the longer route through a more dense area financially preferable.

    Manhattan residential density: 67,000/sq mile.
    Staten Island: 7,000/sq mile. Suburban.

    We haven't even discussed the middle of the night, when it is even more advantageous for big rigs to take this route.

    It is far less expensive (driver's salary + fuel costs + loss of productivity) and sensible to just return back over the VZ and pay the toll - which IS what's happening.
    That is simply not true; if it is, then a two-way toll would have no effect on traffic patterns. Trucks would just continue to do what you think they already do.

    So what are you afraid of?

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