Two-way Verrazano Toll to be Restored, Finally; Traffic Volume/Accidents in SoHo to Shrink Dramatically
Jersey City Retailer Withdraws Application to Close W. Bdwy for Loud Rock Band and Promo****************
Verrazano Bridge Tolls to be Restored
Decades of Activism Pays Off
In 1986, at the behest of Staten Islanders who complained of long lines of cars queuing to pay the tolls on the Verrazano Bridge, Republican congressman Guy Molinari enabled Federal legislation that eliminated the eastbound bridge toll but doubled the toll for westbound traffic
To avoid the double toll, vehicles to New Jersey began using the Holland Tunnel, which is free westbound.
Within weeks, traffic intended for interstate highways doubled and traffic speeds were cut in half on Broome and Canal Streets. Gridlock and horn-honking became endemic.
Traffic deaths and injuries rose dramatically along Broome, Kenmare and Canal Streets. Millions of dollars in lost MTA tolls were forfeited annually and close to a billion dollars in revenue lost since the one-way toll began. Auto emissions and asthma rates on Canal soon ranked among the worse in the city.
Immediately the SoHo Alliance sued in State Supreme Court to restore two-way tolls until an environmental impact statement could be formulated.
We did not prevail legally, so we turned to political agitation. We lobbied our Congressman Jerry Nadler for help. We got Senator Schumer involved, to no avail.
We asked Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at the height of his influence for assistance. The all-powerful Silver told us we had no chance of restoring the tolls.
We reached out to Transportation Alternatives whose stated goal is to “reclaim city streets from the automobile” and the organization told us the two-way toll would never be restored.
As long as Republican politicians ruled in Staten Island, we were held hostage to Staten Island NIMBYs.
None of this stopped us. For decades, the SoHo Alliance made its point never to prevent this inequity from being forgotten.
We demonstrated on Broome Street with Comptroller Scott Stringer. We badgered the Transportation Department for traffic agents. We buttonholed Nadler and Schumer at every opportunity.
But It took the 2018 elections for a Democrat, Max Rose, to be elected the new Staten Island congressman.
Nadler recently got his fellow Democrat to agree to a provision in this year’s Appropriations bill to restore the two-way toll. There will no longer be a financial incentive for truckers and motorists to use the Holland Tunnel.
The bill is widely expected to pass but it will take about a year to receive the money and to reconfigure the toll plazas.
SoHo has finally prevailed after four decades of persistent lobbying and action. Thanks to all of you who have worked with us on this issue and special thanks to Congressman Nadler for never giving up.
Jersey City Retailer Withdraws Application to Close West Broadway for Loud Rock Band and Store Promo
Three weeks ago we alerted you to a request by a Jersey City multinational retailer to close down both West Broadway street and sidewalk from 9am to 11:30 pm to promote their SoHo store, along with a live, amplified rock band. Scores of you responded with emails to the community board to nix this silly and intrusive marketing scheme.
The retailer got the message and withdrew the request for closing the street to traffic, withdrew the request for the rock band, and will be satisfied with stanchions to permit pedestrian passage on the sidewalk.
Thanks to all of you who responded.
Sean Sweeney Director
SoHo Alliance PO Box 429 New York, NY 10012 212-353-8466 firstname.lastname@example.org
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