Gerson pledges his SUPPORT for tolls

Councilmember Alan Gerson’s strongest and clearest statement to date on East River bridge tolls can be found in his recent written report to Community Board 2. The report’s item on the tolls, with the unequivocal headline “Gerson reiterates SUPPORT for East River Bridge Tolls,” states: “While Mayor Bloomberg has possibly retreated a bit in his support of tolling, Councilmember Gerson remains convinced that tolls on the East River bridges is necessary, both to decrease traffic congestion and truck traffic through Lower Manhattan, but also to raise revenues for the city during this tough financial time. Councilmember Gerson continues to pressure NYMTC [New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, a federal regional transportation agency] to release data on tolling and will continue to press the issue in the City Council. Councilmember Gerson understands the tasks which must be achieved prior to this becoming a reality, including exploration of how EZ Pass will work with these bridges, how to ensure smooth traffic flow and regional traffic analysis to see that it will not create the problems suffered by Lower Manhattan with the one-way tolls on the Verrazano Bridge for any neighborhood. Tolls can be a win-win situation for Lower Manhattan, but only if done correctly.” Toll advocates, such as Soho’s Carl Rosenstein, have accused Gerson of being wishy washy on tolls and Gerson previously told The Villager he was wary about backing tolls since parts of his district, such as Chinatown and the Lower East Side, do not support them, and that impact studies were needed first.