New York State Bridge Authority Approves Incremental Toll Adjustment, Half the Amount Originally Proposed
Tolls Remain Among the Lowest in the Nation
Delivers Support for Critical Infrastructure Improvements to Hudson Valley Bridges
Adjustment Scheduled to Begin May 2020
Highland, N.Y. – The New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA) Board of Commissioners unanimously approved its first toll adjustment in seven years at its December 2019 board meeting. Phased-in over four years, the adjustment will support necessary investments in the spans between Bear Mountain and the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. These projects include the replacement of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge (north span) deck, major painting and paving projects at the other four Hudson Valley bridges, as well as the transition to all electronic tolling.
The Bridge Authority will roll out the new tolls for E-ZPass customers at $0.10 per year for four years. The eventual 2023 rate of $1.65 for E-ZPass customers will still be lower in inflation-adjusted dollars than tolls were when the Authority began in the 1930s and they remain among the lowest bridge tolls in the nation.
The Bridge Authority originally proposed a much larger increase, but following a review by the New York State Division of the Budget, the revised plan would increase tolls by less than 8% per year, about half the amount originally proposed.
Bridge Authority Acting Executive Director Tara Sullivan said: “Thanks to the good guidance of the State Division of the Budget and NYSBA’s financial and traffic consultants, we have been able to put forward a plan that maintains these critical pieces of the Hudson Valley’s infrastructure at the lowest possible rate. With a replacement value of $2 billion, we firmly believe it is far more cost effective in the long run to maintain our bridges for future generations.”
Bridge Authority Chairman Richard A. Gerentine said: “Our vehicular spans range in age from 39 to 95 years old, but are able to stay in excellent condition due to the constant care of our maintenance staff and the long-range capital plans put out by our engineering department. The Board of the New York State Bridge Authority is supportive of this collaborative proposal that will allow these iconic structures to continue serving the people of the Hudson Valley in the decades to come.”
Cash rates will increase from the current rate of $1.50 to $2.15, starting on May 1, 2020 and ending on May 1, 2023. Tolls were last increased in 2012, when they were set at $1.25 for E-ZPass customers and $1.50 for cash customers, and have only gone up four times in the Authority’s 87-year history.
The New York State Bridge Authority was created in 1932 by then-Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt as a way to self-sufficiently fund and maintain bridges over the Hudson River. The Authority operates the five vehicular spans between the Bear Mountain and Rip Van Winkle Bridges and also maintains the bridge structure for the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. With no operating funding coming from state or federal tax dollars, the Authority raises 97% of its revenue through tolls, which are among the lowest in the United States. The remaining 3% comes from investment income, advertising revenue at toll plazas, and leasing of dark fiber cables.
Even with some of the lowest bridge tolls in the nation, NYSBA is still able to maintain a rating of Aa3 with Moody’s and an A+ bond rating with Standard & Poor’s. Just as importantly, each of our five vehicular spans – ranging in age from 39 to 95 years old – have the highest safety rating (Level 5) for bridges of their age. Additionally, due to the continual, attentive care of the bridges by NYSBA’s maintenance staff, the Authority has never received a red flag on any of its bridges.
Information on the planned toll revision will be presented to the public in the coming months and will be available on the Authority’s website atwww.nysba.ny.gov.