Abinanti Calls for Fair Allocation Bridge Tolls

Says public discussion necessary

“The new tolls must be fair,” Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-Greenburgh/Mt. Pleasant) today told the Cuomo Bridge Tolls Task Force.

Abinanti criticized a proposal floated several years ago by the Thruway authority which would continue present tolls but add new tolls to pay for the construction and maintenance of the two Cuomo Bridges. “Westchester and Rockland residents cannot afford to pay the tolls necessary to support the full construction and maintenance costs of the new bridges, in addition to the present tolls that subsidize the rest of the thruway system,” said Abinanti. “It is unfair to expect them to do so.”

Abinanti, who represents Tarrytown, the eastern landing of the Tappan Zee Bridge, suggested three alternative revenue-allocation formulas that he said were “fair”:

(1) dedicate all Cuomo Bridge tolls solely to bridge costs; or,

(2) dedicate all revenues from each of the Thruway Authority’s regions to pay for the costs of that region; thus the downstate region’s tolls would be set to meet the downstate costs, including the new bridges; or

(3) Continue the current formula of using all Thruway Authority revenues statewide to pay for all Thruway Authority costs, including the new bridges, and set the level of all tolls at the necessary level necessary to meet all costs, including the new bridges.

“When first proposed, construction costs were estimated at $5.2 billion and bridge tolls at $14.00” said Abinanti. “The last public projected cost of $3.9 billion by itself reduces the projected car toll by at least 20%.”

Using a fair formula for allocating Thruway Authority costs will result in a fair cost to all thruway users. In 2013, using 2013 numbers, I calculated that any of the three approaches could result in bridge car tolls around $6.00 or $7.00 – or less with local resident discounts. Bridge tolls will rise to more than $10.00 only if we use an unfair formula requiring that bridge toll payers continue to subsidize the cost of the entire thruway system and, in addition, assume all of the new costs of the new bridges.

First, the projected lower cost of $4 billion rather than $5.2 billion by itself reduces the projected car toll on the Tappan Zee Bridge to less than $11.00 from the original $14.00. Second, using a fairer formula for allocating the costs of the new Tappan Zee bridges rather than the new formula proposed by the Thruway Authority will reduce Tappan Zee Bridge tolls even further.

Assemblyman Abinanti suggested that Tappan Zee Bridge car tolls could be around $6.00 or $7.00.

Abinanti, who represents Tarrytown, the eastern landing of the Tappan Zee Bridge, has previously called for EZ Pass bridge toll discounts for Westchester and Rockland residents.

“Tappan Zee Bridge tolls will rise to more than $10.00 only if we use the Thruway Authority’s new proposed formula requiring that Tappan Zee Bridge toll payers continue to contribute to the cost of the entire Thruway system and, in addition, assume all of the new costs of the new bridges,” stated the Westchester Assemblyman.