Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway), Assemblywoman Michele Titus (D-Queens) and Senator Malcolm A. Smith (D-Queens) announced their support and commended Governor Cuomo for his 2012-13 budget proposal that incorporated a toll discount program for families of the Rockaway’s and Broad Channel.
“We have been working relentlessly to end the unfair toll on the Cross Bay Bridge,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “This program would be a huge victory for our community and I’d like to thank the many civic and neighborhood leaders who rallied, the thousands in the community who signed our petition, and my colleagues who stood with us in this important fight. Our voices were heard and we are one step closer to successfully eliminating this toll entirely, lifting a considerable financial burden off the shoulders of the many hardworking families and small businesses in our community.”
The plan would call on the state to pay the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for costs associated with reimbursement of E-Z Pass tolls paid by residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaway Peninsula for travel over the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge.
“This proposal is a significant win for hardworking Queens residents,” Assemblywoman Titus said. “I’d like to join Assemblyman Goldfeder and Senator Smith in commending the governor and those in our community who are fighting so hard to make this happen. Our families cannot and should not be subjected to a burdensome toll every time they need to use the Cross Bay Bridge – it’s simply unfair.”
The Cross Bay Bridge toll is the only intra-borough bridge toll in New York City. Local residents are required to pay a burdensome toll, several times a day, in order to get back and forth to work, take their children to and from school and run necessary everyday errands. This causes a further drag on an already sluggish local economy and places an inherently unjust financial burden on the residents and small businesses of southern Queens and Rockaway, Goldfeder noted.
“In this time of significant economic challenge, rebate and reimbursement programs can go a long way in helping all New Yorkers meet ordinary day-to-day responsibilities,” Senator Smith said. “Residents on the Rockaway Peninsula should not be charged for doing ordinary responsibilities such as going grocery shopping or attending community events. I applaud Governor Cuomo and the MTA for recognizing the undue hardship placed on New Yorkers and encourage all to follow their lead to modify the toll on the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge.”
In the fall of 2011, Goldfeder sent a letter to MTA President Joseph Lhota, asking that the MTA reinstate the full residency discount. Shortly after, he sent Lhota a petition with 2,000 signatures in support of the toll’s elimination. Additionally, Goldfeder introduced legislation in the Assembly, supported by Assemblywoman Titus that would eliminate the burdensome Cross Bay Bridge toll permanently (A.9000) while Senator Smith introduced similar legislation in the Senate (S.3924).
“After working for over 30 years for the elimination of the toll, I am proud to have partnered with Assemblyman Goldfeder as a team to once again rid the residents of Rockaway and Broad Channel of this unfair tax,” said community activist and District Leader Lew Simon, “Now we have to make sure that the legislation gets passed in order to make this rebate permanent.”
"This is a perfect example of the bi-partisan collaborative working relationship elected officials should have on issues of importance to our communities, said Congressman Bob Turner (NY-9). I am proud to stand with Assemblyman Goldfeder on behalf of residents of the Rockaways and Broad Channel, who should not have to pay a toll to travel through their borough. I will continue to fight to make this toll rebate a reality this coming year, and to make it permanent."
“The residency discount program is a great first step but our work is not yet done,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “That’s why we urge our colleagues in the Assembly and the Senate to not only approve the governor’s proposal, but to also support the legislation that would bring an end to the toll completely.”