Goldfeder, Addabbo: Local residents may now travel without fear of additional fee
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) and Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) have announced that Joe Lhota, Chairman of the MTA, will immediately implement the residency rebate for the costs associated with reimbursement of E-ZPass tolls paid by residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaway Peninsula for travel over the Cross Bay-Veterans Memorial Bridge. While it may take until mid-summer to reprogram the E-ZPass tags for residents, the MTA has agreed to make all reimbursements retroactive to April 1st, which is the beginning of the fiscal year.
“Joe Lhota has been a breath of fresh air at the MTA and I commend him for doing the right thing for the residents of Rockaway and Broad Channel," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. "Hardworking families should not be burdened with this unfair fee for one day longer than they have to and now we will finally get the relief we so desperately need and deserve."
"In collaboration with Assemblyman Goldfeder and honoring the newly passed state budget that included the rebate, we've crossed that proverbial bridge with the MTA to restore the rebate to Rockaway and Broad Channel residents effective immediately, including returning funds to local users of E-ZPass for the discounted tolls they've paid each way, retroactive to April 1st,” Senator Addabbo said.
“We’re pleased to be able to return this program to residents of the Rockaways and Broad Channel and thank the governor and state legislators for providing the funds to us,” said MTA Chairman and Chief Executive Joseph Lhota.
Previously, Assemblyman Goldfeder sent a letter to MTA President Joseph Lhota asking that the MTA reinstate the full residency discount and shortly after, he followed up with a petition containing 2,000 signatures in support of the toll’s elimination. Additionally, Goldfeder introduced legislation in the Assembly and Addabbo in the Senate that would eliminate the burdensome Cross Bay Bridge toll permanently (A.9000/S.6890).
Included in Governor Cuomo’s 2012-13 Executive Budget proposal was an initiative to reinstate the Cross Bay Bridge discount for the residents of Broad Channel and Rockaway. Goldfeder and Addabbo fought to ensure that both the Assembly and Senate included the residency rebate in their respective budgets and in the final budget that was signed by the governor last week.
“As a Councilman, I joined with other electeds to fight back against the MTA's Cross Bay Bridge toll and as a State Senator, from the part of the Queens mainland that the bridge connects with; I have continued to press for removal of this toll,” said Senator Addabbo. “There was never a good reason to impose this financial hardship on residents of our borough who travel from their homes on the peninsula to anywhere else in Queens, sometimes several times a day. It was long perceived by resident drivers and affected small businesses as a "fine" for living on the peninsula.”
“In this economy, every dollar counts,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “Senator Addabbo and I fought hard to see that the residency program was funded in this year’s state budget and I am happy that the MTA is working with us to provide this much-needed relief to our community with their decision to retroactively reimburse residents for this toll.”