Taking A Toll On Rockaway Volunteers
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) reinstated the tolls on the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge and the Gil Hodges Marine Parkway Bridge much too early. There are a number of reasons for that contention, not the least being the fact that many local residents lost their EZ-Pass devices along with their automobiles in the raging storm surge of Superstorm Sandy and therefore lost their ability to receive the resident rebate on the Cross Bay Bridge. Those whose electronic device was zapped by sitting in sea water for a day have no easy chore in getting a new device. One local who called was asked for the number on the device but the device was towed away with the car. No combination of contact information worked to access his account, so no new tag could be issued. The toll should remain in abeyance until locals can get valid devices. Secondly, there are still a number of volunteers from outside the community working with locals to restore their homes. Those volunteers should not be punished by paying an exorbitant toll to come and help the helpless. Many will just stop coming, and that would be a shame. When questioned about the toll restoration, an MTA spokesperson said, “We’re grateful for the work of the volunteers, but we don’t have the power of the luxury of suspending the tolls.” Up to now, the state has been compensating the MTA for the loss of tolls on the two bridges. Perhaps FEMA or some state agency can pick up the costs for a few more months to allow residents to get set with new EZ-Pass devices and allow volunteers to continue to assist local residents without having to pay a penalty to do so.