Rose Hails Split-Tolling, Malliotakis Calls It A Red Herring


U.S Reps. Max Rose (D-South Brooklyn, Staten Island), Jerrold Nadler (D-Brooklyn, Manhattan), and Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens) last week hailed federal legislation that would bring back a split-toll system on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, which spans the New York Harbor from Brooklyn to Staten Island.

Max Rose
U.S. Rep. Max Rose
Assembly Member Nicole Malliotakis

But Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R-Bay Ridge, Staten Island), who is challenging Rose next year for his Congressional seat, called the plan a “shell game that will divert funds to the MTA with little benefit to local traffic.” 

The bridge has operated under a one-way toll since the 1980s. The Federal Fiscal Year 2020 Omnibus Budget Package, which was passed last week, includes language banning a one-way toll on the Verrazzano.

Split-tolling on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is expected to cut the existing fare in half, since it will be paid in both directions. Non-Staten Island residents will pay $9.50 in both directions, and all discounts for residents will remain in place.

“Thanks to the overwhelmingly bipartisan support from every level of government, outdated federal laws will no longer create traffic on the expressway and let New Jersey truckers skip out on paying the same tolls we pay every damn day,” said Rose. “Split-tolling will take hundreds of thousands of out-of-stake truckers off the expressways, and for once Staten Islanders don’t have to pay a cent to see their commute improved. Whether it’s split-tolling, more fast ferries, or improving the Staten Island Expressway—I will do everything in my power to improve the commute of my constituents.”

But Malliotakis countered that the split-tolling will wind up costing Southern Brooklyners more.

“Max Rose has done a disservice to our community by sneaking his and Jerry Nadler’s two-way tolling scheme into the $1.4 trillion spending bill. Nadler supports it because it would reduce congestion in his lower Manhattan district. The MTA supports it because it would provide $12 million in additional revenue the agency can misspend,” said Malliotakis. “What is the benefit for Staten Island and Southern Brooklyn? Nothing!”

Malliotakis said according to the MTA’s own study, It will add 4,000 more vehicles during our evening commute, increase vehicle speeds in the morning by no more than 0.1 MPH and the additional $12 million surplus won’t be used to lower the tolls for local residents.

“Ensuring that the extra revenue is used to lower the cost to constituents who suffer under these excessive tolls and heavy traffic is the very least Congressman Max Rose should have done,” said Malliotakis.

Despite Malliotakis’ criticism, Democrats lined up behind Rose.

“After more than two decades working on this issue, I am incredibly proud that the House-passed FY2020 spending bills include language that ends the federal prohibition of split-tolling on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge,” said Nadler. “Restoring split-tolling will greatly improve traffic and congestion in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, while also capturing new vital funding for the MTA from out-of-state trucks, which no longer will avoid a toll entering New York City via Staten Island or dodge tolls on the Hudson River Bridge and tunnel crossings.”

“Split-tolling promises improvements in traffic flow throughout the City and I’m proud to have worked with my colleagues’ Congressmen Rose and Nadler to, at long last, see this fix passed into law,” said Velázquez. “By reversing this antiquated federal law, we’ll see fewer trucks entering the city by way of Staten Island and Brooklyn.”

“This change will help reduce truck congestion, and the air pollution and traffic it causes, on Staten Island. The implementation of electronic tolling made the old system outdated, so it’s about time that split-tolling was reinstated on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). “The repeal of the split-tolling ban will benefit thousands of New York City residents in Brooklyn, Manhattan and on Staten Island.”

The MTA has found that split-tolling eliminates incentives for non-commuters to toll-shop around New York City, reducing traffic congestion in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn. 

“The original reason for the one-way toll on the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge was to ease congestion around toll booths, which had created traffic headaches for commuters,” said Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus (D-Coney Island, Sea Gate, Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Brighton Beach, Dyker Heights, Gravesend). “The unintended consequence was toll shopping, as people looked for ways to avoid tolls while entering the city, which resulted in even greater congestion on our roads. Bringing back the split-tolling is a common-sense solution to ease traffic congestion around the bridge, while not increasing prices for residents, who already pay far too much to get around our city.”

“I would like to thank Congressman Max Rose for introducing this legislation to alleviate traffic on the West Shore and Staten Island Expressways and the Brooklyn Gowanus Expressway,” said Assemblymember Peter Abbate, Jr (D-Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst, Borough Park). “For many years, the elected officials in Brooklyn have asked to repeal the one-way tolling mandate across the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge. This will be a great victory for the residents of Staten Island and Brooklyn, in not only in reducing traffic, but also for a cleaner air environment.”

“Bay Ridge is fortunate to have Congressmembers like Max Rose, Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velazquez fighting for us in Washington,” said Council Member Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach). “Because of their efforts, this common-sense plan to bring back split-tolling will end the days of toll-shopping trucks snaking their way through our community and choking our streets to evade tolls. Now, when we see those trucks in Bay Ridge, we’ll know they are here to make a local delivery.”