Public officials railed against a potential plan to enact tolls on the city's East River bridges, which would both help distribute costs currently shouldered by bridges in other boroughs and contribute needed funds to the debt-crippled MTA.
Dubbed MoveNY, the plan seeks to raise roughly $1.5 billion for work on roads and improvements to mass transit by charging motorists to cross bridges that are currently free. After many years spent being placed on and subsequently taken off the table, discussions were tenuously resurrected in July by First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, who expressed that the city would be open to any possibility that could potentially relieve a fraction of the MTA's $14 billion debt.
But not everyone is amenable to the plan, which would require drivers to pay $5.54 by E-ZPass or $8 cash to cross the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro bridges.
“I cannot think of a better example of actual highway robbery,” Assemblyman David Weprin said at a press conference on Sunday. “It would be a major financial burden on the many small and medium businesses that rely on the free bridges for multiple trips daily."
“Nobody drives into Manhattan for the pleasure of it. They drive because they have to," said Senator Tony Avella of Queens. “People in Queens have no mass transit in half the borough....this is nothing but another tax on middle class families and small businesses.”
The press conference was held the same day that tolls to cross the George Washington Bridge rose to $15.
Congestion pricing was originally introduced as a potential balm for the MTA's budget shortfall by Bloomberg, who applauded its effects in reducing pollution in other cities. The plan, though, was found unpalatable by outer borough politicians, and killed by erstwhile Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver in 2008.