Drivers will pay higher tolls on new Mario M. Cuomo bridge

Motorists driving over the old Tappan Zee Bridge will be slapped with a toll hike come 2021, state officials announced Thursday.

The state Thruway Authority approved its first toll increase since 2010 for the new Mario M. Cuomo bridge to help pay for the $4 billion span over the Hudson River connecting Westchester and Rockland counties, north of New York City.

“So with most spans of the bridge open and system-wide implementation of cashless tolling in 2022, now is the time to begin consideration of an adjustment process,” said Matt Howard, the TA’s chief financial officer during the board of directors meeting in Albany.

“It will allow us to responsibly meet our future operational and capital needs, and support our debt service obligations as well ensuring that we continue to provide a reliable service to our patrons.”

Officials unveiled a plan detailing the increases: for E-ZPass drivers operating passenger costs, rates would increase from $4.75 to $5.25 in 2021, and to $5.75 in 2022.

Drivers who don’t have E-ZPass and pay by mail will face an increase from the current $5 to $6.83 by 2021 and $7.48 in 2022. Plus, these drivers will also see a $2 surcharge on their monthly bill — a fiscal reminder to get the EZPass device.

Truckers will see a boost as well — presently five axle trucks spend $32.75 during peak hours, but will see a jump to $42.90 in 2021 and $55.77 by 2022.

 

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A toll lane future is inevitable in California as traffic congestion worsens

When California began building its freeway network after World War II to connect its booming suburbs, the expectation was that drivers would be able to use them to speedily bypass traffic lights, pedestrians and increasingly congested city streets.

And while not expressly stated, the flowing concrete ribbons would be unlike the toll roads in the East: That is, these roadways would be free.

But that was long before those freeways became congested with bumper-to-bumper traffic, making for miserable commutes and perpetually smoggy skies.

Now, California is expanding toll lanes on freeways like never before, not just to raise revenue for transportation projects but to change behavior as well.

 

Toll lanes are in the works along the 405 Freeway in Orange County, the 15 Freeway in Riverside County and Interstate 880 in Alameda County.

Orange County is considering a huge expansion of toll lanes, eyeing the 55, 57 and 91 freeways as possibilities. Darrell E. Johnson, head of the Orange County Transportation Authority, said the plan is part of a decades-long, $43-billion investment in the county’s transportation network.

L.A. County officials are even considering adding toll lanes to the 405 in the congested Sepulveda Pass, and later, on the 105 and 605 freeways. Another proposal would add toll lanes to the 5 Freeway between Red Hill Avenue and the L.A. County line, costing $223 million to $779 million, according to Caltrans.

 

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Tolls to increase on the RVW Bridge

CATSKILL — Beginning in May, motorists who cross over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge on their commute will notice an increase in the toll, according to an announcement from the state Bridge Authority.

For E-ZPass customers, the rate will increase 10 cents per year for four years, ending at $1.65 in 2023. Cash rates will increase from $1.50 to $2.15 by 2023, according to the release.

The increase is necessary to fund critical improvements to the bridges, according to the Bridge Authority.

 

“These projects include the replacement of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge deck, major painting and paving projects at the other four Hudson Valley bridges, as well as the transition to all electronic tolling,” according to the Bridge Authority.

Catskill Village President Vincent Seeley said he believes the toll increase will have an impact on all residents.

“It will affect our residents much more than visitors,” he said. “Many are already on a tight budget and this is just another increase of a cost of living and a cost of doing business. I worry about students at the college who are already struggling with school schedules and sometimes two jobs to make ends meet. This winds up hurting people who need relief the most.”

The increase announced Friday is the first toll hike in seven years. Tolls have risen just four times in the Bridge Authority’s 87-year history.

“Thanks to the good guidance of the State Division of the Budget and NYSBA’s financial and traffic consultants, we have been able to put forward a plan that maintains these critical pieces of the Hudson Valley’s infrastructure at the lowest possible rate,” Bridge Authority Acting Executive Director Tara Sullivan said. “With a replacement value of $2 billion, we firmly believe it is far more cost-effective in the long run to maintain our bridges for future generations.”

 

The increase is about half of what was originally proposed, according to the Bridge Authority.

“Our vehicular spans range in age from 39 to 95 years old, but are able to stay in excellent condition due to the constant care of our maintenance staff and the long-range capital plans put out by our engineering department,” Bridge Authority Chairman Richard A. Gerentine said. “The Board of the New York State Bridge Authority is supportive of this collaborative proposal that will allow these iconic structures to continue serving the people of the Hudson Valley in the decades to come.”

On the New York State Thruway, the conversion to cashless tolling has begun and is expected to be completed at the end of 2020.

Toll rates on the Thruway will be frozen through 2020, according to thruway.ny.gov.

The $353.3 million project will encompass all 570 miles of the state Thruway.

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