2-way tolling begins on Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge for 1st time since 1986

STATEN ISLAND, New York City (WABC) -- The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is now back to split tolling, with collection now taking place in both the Staten Island- and Brooklyn-bound directions.

The two-way collection began at midnight Tuesday, with the toll charged to motorists entering Staten Island and Brooklyn at an effective rate of $6.12 for New York-issued E-ZPass users, $9.50 for tolls by mail, $2.75 (post-rebate) for Staten Island residents, and $1.70 for Staten Island carpool customers.

The effective toll for a round trip and the Staten Island resident discount remain unchanged.

"There will be no change to the customer environment as a result of split tolling thanks to our current open road tolling technology," MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Daniel DeCrescenzo said. "The transition will be as smooth and seamless as possible. I would also like to remind our customers they can pay their tolls and manage their E-ZPass and Tolls by Mail accounts easily and conveniently with the free Tolls NY mobile app."

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The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge has been the country's only bridge with federally-mandated one-direction tolling for more than three decades, until Congress amended the directive.

Split-tolling is expected to reduce the number of regional motorists who had cut through Staten Island -- estimated at 7,000 per weekday pre-pandemic -- in order to take advantage of the previous method of toll collection westbound only.

The undiscounted one-way and round-trip toll rates will match those at the Hugh L. Carey and Queens-Midtown Tunnels and Bronx-Whitestone, Robert F. Kennedy and Throgs Neck Bridges.

New signs have been placed in the eastbound and westbound directions, and the MTA has notified navigation apps including Google, Waze, Apple, and TomTom.

Tolls have been collected in only the westbound direction since March 20, 1986, under a federal law that aimed to halve stop-and-go traffic at Staten Island toll booths at a time before E-ZPass and resulting backups.

Instead, the law has been blamed by some for worsening traffic citywide by encouraging New Jersey-bound motorists and truckers to avoid the doubled toll collection by taking a lengthy, congested route over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, Manhattan Bridge and Canal Street to reach the westbound toll-free Holland Tunnel.

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At the same time, the one-way tolling was seen by some as increasing traffic through Staten Island by inviting out-of-state truckers to use the Staten Island Expressway for essentially free travel toward Brooklyn, Long Island and New England.

E-ZPass began reducing traffic congestion in 1996, and the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge's remaining toll booths were decommissioned in July 2017 as MTA Bridges and Tunnels transitioned to Open Road Tolling.

The one-way mandate was repealed last year by legislation sponsored by Congressman Max Rose and builds on a broad range of initiatives undertaken by the MTA in recent years to improve commute times for Staten Islanders.

The MTA instituted a seventh lane on the bridge -- a reversible HOV lane -- and added cashless tolling in 2017.

Staten Island was also the first borough to undergo a wholesale overhaul and modernization of its express bus network, in 2018, an undertaking that has resulted in faster bus speeds and more efficient service throughout the borough.

The Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge is among the busiest bridges in the country, logging more than 215,000 vehicular crossings on weekdays prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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