State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) wants newly appointed MTA Executive Director Joseph Lhota to visit his district so Lhota can hear residents’ gripes about the Cross Bay Bridge toll.
“As you may know, the Cross Bay Bridge toll is the only intraborough toll in New York City and, by principle, inherently unfair,” Goldfeder wrote to Lhota Nov. 17.
The assemblyman said in a phone interview Tuesday the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has not responded to the letter.
“It’s fair to give them another day or so,” Goldfeder said. “I wanted to welcome the new director to his post and [notify him] that these were going to be our top priorities.”
Then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani instituted a rebate program in 1997 for Broad Channel and Rockaway residents who used the Cross Bay Bridge that gave residents a $2.26 rebate on their E-ZPass statements each time they made a round trip.
But in July 2010, citing budget woes, the MTA partially rescinded the rebate, only reimbursing residents after they made one round trip in a day.
Community leaders said that policy was unfair because few residents made more than one round trip.
Goldfeder started an online petition on his Assembly website for residents to voice their displeasure with the toll and said he would be introducing legislation to do away with the surcharge.
The assemblyman said the petition has more than 1,000 signers and had the best response of any petition on the Assembly website, which includes signatures urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reinstitute the so-called “millionaire’s tax.”
“This has gotten people more enthused and excited than anything,” Goldfeder said.
Goldfeder said the toll is a hardship to residents.
“For the residents of Broad Channel and the Rockaways, this means paying a toll to travel to and from work, drop-off and pick-up their children at school, visit the police precinct and go to the local post office, among many other everyday necessities,” Goldfeder wrote to Lhota. “The toll is hurting Queens residents and placing a great burden on the local economy and the small businesses in the area. We should be doing everything we can to attract visitors and businesses to our area, not charging them a fee to get here.”
Eliminating the Cross Bay Bridge toll was one of Goldfeder’s top priorities during his Assembly campaign, in which he defeated Republican District Leader Jane Deacy in a September special election to replace ex-Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, now the county clerk.
The assemblyman said he wanted Lhota to meet with residents.
“I invite you to visit my district to hear firsthand from the affected residents and businesses and I ask that you work with me to end the fee and make lives a little easier for the hardworking residents of southern Queens,” Goldfeder wrote.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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