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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