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East River bridge tolls? New Yorkers want to keep them free
New York voters overwhelmingly oppose tolls on the East River bridges, but not if they get something in return, a poll released Monday said.
A Quinnipiac University survey found that 71% thought charging drivers to cross East River bridges was a bad idea, with 23% in support of the idea.
"New York City voters from every borough reject the idea, as they have for years, even as a possible partial remedy for congestion," said Maurice Carroll of Quinnipiac University.
Yet that opposition drops to 49% when voters were told the tolls would reduce the burden for drivers who use bridges between the outerboroughs, like the Triborough and Whitestone, with 41% in support.
The idea of tolling the East River bridges to fund better transit and infrastructure work is part of a plan from transportation engineer "Gridlock" Sam Schwartz called Move NY. Alex Matthiessen, director for Move NY, said he found the survey encouraging.
"Once New Yorkers understand that they can get something in return for new tolls, support for such a plan rises dramatically," he said.
Opposition to the idea of just tolling the East River crossings was the same in each borough except Staten Island, home to the $15 Verrazano Bridge toll. Staten Islanders were opposed to new tolls by just 58%, while opposition in each of the four other boroughs' hovered in the low-70s.
Commuters were also opposed. People who drive to work rejected the idea 73% to 24%, while mass transit riders opposed it 71% to 24%. Meanwhile opposition among drivers and mass transit riders dropped to 51% and 49%, respectively, when asked adding tolls along with reductions elsewhere.