CBB Toll…A Burden On All
The passing of the MTA budget last week means that the resident rebate program enjoyed for more than a decade on the Cross Bay Bridge is finished. The new plan, to be implemented in July, will charge a vehicle with an E-Z Pass for the first two trips across the bridge before subsequent trips that day are free.
Under the new rules, after the first two trips, residents will pay $1.13 each way to go to go to work and return home. A mother or father bringing her or his child to school will have to pay $1.13 each way. A Broad Channel resident will have to pay $1.13 each way to mail a package at the nearest post office on his or her day off. A Rockaway family traveling to a friend’s house in mainland Queens on a Saturday afternoon will have to pay $1.13 each way.
The scenarios are countless, but as Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer once said to the MTA board, “it’s like putting a toll booth in the middle of Queens Boulevard and asking Queens residents to pay money to access one side from the other.”
This has local businesses and real estate professionals devastated by the burden placed on the communities of Rockaway and Broad Channel by the MTA budget cuts.
“Of course it will hurt business, no question,” Jimmy Condolios, proprietor of Belle Harbor Steak House said. “But there’s nothing I can do about it.”
But some feel an intra-borough and in some paces on the peninsula, an intra-zip code toll will further hamper the peninsula’s struggling commercial
development and stop families from moving to Rockaway.
“It will discourage families and business from coming here,” Trevor Schaper, general manager of Wavecrest Gardens, said. “Cost of living has increased so much and hurting commuters with a toll doesn’t help.”
Brian Heffernan, a Rockaway based real estate agent, says things are hard enough.
“It is tough enough in this market just to get potential buyers, and then I have to inform them of a toll just to live on the peninsula,” he said.
Heffernan added that as a resident also, the toll compromise doesn’t do much for him personally, as he rarely crosses the bridge more than once a day. “The impact will be considerable,” he concluded.
A decrease in the number of people moving to the peninsula means there are fewer shoppers. This could spell disaster for business owners who already pay more for the products they sell to be delivered onto the peninsula.
“Every aspect of business is impacted,” the owner of 101 Deli said. “The lack of people coming to Rockaway to live here or to visit the beaches will have a terrible effect.”