On Monday, September 16th, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, joined by local residents, held a press conference exposing the two-way tolling plan proposed by local Members of Congress Max Rose and Jerry Nadler and the MTA for the Verrazzano Bridge as a shell game that will divert funds to the MTA with little benefit to local traffic.
Malliotakis, who obtained an MTA study on the projected impact of the measure on Staten Island and Southwest Brooklyn, after she filed a Freedom of Information Law request, made the case that the measure has little impact on traffic and that it is all about increasing revenue for the MTA without any real benefit to Southwest Brooklyn and Staten Island residents. Malliotakis will also explain why the Port Authority is now looking to strip residents of the discounts they enjoy on the three Staten Island bridges.
Malliotakis states four reasons to oppose the Verrazzano two-way tolling scheme:
1) On April 28, Reps. Rose and Nadler held a press conference saying the $12 million in additional revenue that two-way tolling would generate will go into the black hole of bridge maintenance. The bridge’s maintenance should come from the $500 million it already generates annually on the bridge. Additionally, since additional revenue will be generated by congestion pricing, the $12M anticipated from two-way tolling should really go toward lowering the toll for residents.
2) The MTA’s study was released publicly showing that two-way tolling will not have the desired impact of improving speeds and reducing traffic on the Staten Island Expressway and Brooklyn-Queens Expressway as Congressman Rose claimed. Estimates show a 0.1 mph change at most and while there may be fewer cars during the morning hours, traffic would worsen during the evening returning from Manhattan to Staten Island.
3) On June 25th the same day Reps. Rose and Nadler passed two-way tolling in the House of Representatives, the Port Authority proposed taking away our 3+ trip discount on its three Staten Island bridges and replacing it with a required 10+ trips in an obvious attempt to make up for the shortfall the two-way tolling would create by diverting trips and revenue over the Verrazzano Bridge.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said, “Not only will two-way tolling make traffic worse in the evening, the additional revenue will not be used to lower the toll for Brooklyn and Staten Island. On top of it, the Port Authority now wants to reduce our discount on its three Staten Island bridges, in what clearly appears to be a formula to make up for the revenue it will lose on the bridges as a result of two-way tolling. The bottom line is that this is a bad deal for Brooklynites and Staten Islanders. The MTA and Port Authority have always treated us as ATM’s. The only difference is, now our representatives in Congress are aiding them too.”