Van Bramer Supports Plan to Add Tolls to East River Bridges

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced support for a controversial plan to add a toll to the Queensboro Bridge, and other free East River crossings.  NY1's Shannan Ferry filed this report. 

If you're traveling towards the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge - many residents say you may want to prepare for a slow ride.

"There's three different traffic attendants - it'll still take 10 to 15 minutes to clear up some congestion points," explained one commuter.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer says that's one of the reasons he's endorsing a controversial plan to add a toll to this bridge, and other free East River crossings.

"We have the Queens Midtown Tunnel in my district, we have the Triborough Bridge to the North - both of those have tolls.   So everybody who's looking for a free ride comes here, and that causes this enormous backlog of traffic that's on our streets," said Van Bramer.

The proposal is called the Move NY Fair Plan and it's expected to generate nearly 1.5 billion dollars annually.  The funding would be used to improve roads, bridges, and expand transit service.

"Which will allow us to both increase access on the 7, but also the implement new bus lines," Van Bramer explained.  

Even if the plan does improve mass transit and congestion, some residents say a toll just isn't the answer.

"It has existed the way it is now, for years and it should stay the way it is," said one commuter.

"Now you have to pay rent, you have to pay this, and you have to pay to go into Manhattan? Way too much," said another.

Van Bramer and organizers argue the plan would level the playing field for all commuters.

"You'll get dramatically lower tolls in the outer parts of the city, on the other bridges you often use - and think of it in terms of fairness," said Alex Matthiessen, Campaign Director for Move NY.

"Everybody else who is traveling into the central business district, whether by subway, bus, express bus, commuter rail, they're all paying," he added.

The MTA refused to comment, and the Department of Transportation didn't get back to us.

The plan would need state support in order to move forward. 

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