New York Rep. Daniel Donovan said he won't support a return to a two-way toll until he's convinced it won't negatively affect traffic and tolls.
(TNS) -- STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- While drivers adjust to the new cashless tolling system on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the MTA has begun studying the effects of two-way tolling on the span, and is expected to complete its research sometime next year.
The transit agency is collecting data to see how the change in tolling would affect toll enforcement, its new cashless system, the money generated from tolls and traffic flow.
Rep. Daniel Donovan had requested the agency study the effects of collecting half the toll going into Brooklyn and the other half traveling onto Staten Island as Rep. Jerrold Nadler has pushed to reinstate it.
Drivers have paid the full toll traveling onto Staten Island since 1986, when then-Congressman Guy Molinari got an amendment into a federal transportation bill to end two-way tolling because cars waiting to pay the Brooklyn-bound toll caused backups on Staten Island.
Donovan (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) has said he won't support the return of two-way tolling even as Nadler (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan) has called for its reinstatement for years, arguing the one-way toll encourages Brooklyn-bound drivers to use the bridge and bring traffic into his district, especially trucks.
While there's no toll for cars and trucks taking the bridge to Brooklyn, there is a toll on New Jersey bridges to Staten Island, where many trucks begin their travels to the boroughs.
Donovan said he won't support a return to a two-way toll until he's convinced it won't negatively affect traffic and tolls.
A vote by Congress would be required to change the toll back to both directions, and Nadler would need Donovan's support to get it passed.
When Donovan asked the MTA to study the effects of a two-way toll, he wanted to know whether it would discourage New Jersey drivers from entering New York City through Staten Island and whether it would encourage Long Island and Brooklyn drivers to travel to New Jersey through Staten Island instead of through the Manhattan tunnels.
The congressman also wants to know what net traffic impact the toll would have on Staten Island and South Brooklyn and whether the new tolling structure would impact MTA revenue.
The MTA collected preliminary data this summer, and will collect more once the toll plaza where the cash booths once stood is reconfigured, with the study being completed in 2018.
"I'm glad the MTA is being responsive to my request," Donovan said. "I look forward to continuing to work with [MTA] Chairman Lhota and his team to determine the impacts of a two-way toll to Staten Island and South Brooklyn drivers."
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