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Ex-transit big sez MTA should buy bridges for $1; idea would raise millions, help con

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Ex-transit big sez MTA should buy bridges for $1; idea would raise millions, help congestion

BY PETE DONOHUE

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

September 16th 2008

 

alg_bridge.jpg

Manhattan Bridge

 

Hey, MTA, wanna buy a bridge ... or two?

 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority should purchase the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges from the city for $1 each - and impose tolls, a former city official urged.

 

Ex-Transportation Commissioner Louis Riccio called his concept "congestion pricing lite" because other East River crossings would remain free.

 

"We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars that could be found for the MTA," Riccio testified yesterday at a Manhattan hearing of the state Commission on MTA Financing.

 

The commission, formed by Gov. Paterson and chaired by Richard Ravitch, is expected to release in December a report recommending how state and local officials can address a burgeoning transportation crisis.

 

The MTA's bus and subway system is bursting at the seams. It's facing huge gaps in its operating and capital budgets. The city's population, according to some experts, will grow by 1 million over the next decade or so.

 

Riccio said he believes his scheme wouldn't require approval by either the state Legislature or City Council because the MTA is authorized by its charter to buy "transit facilities" and impose tolls. The Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges support subway lines and can be considered transit facilities, he said.

 

The city should only set a nominal price because by selling the bridges it would see great savings since it wouldn't have to maintain them, Riccio said.

 

The city can't establish tolls without Albany's consent. The state Assembly failed to vote this year on a controversial plan promoted by Mayor Bloomberg to charge $6 to drive below 60th St.

 

Under that plan, proceeds would have been used to expand and upgrade the MTA's network of subways, buses and commuter railroads.

 

Ravitch said his panel would look at the congestion-pricing-lite proposal but indicated he didn't support anything that could be construed as an end run around the state Legislature.

 

"I don't think it's appropriate to do something like that without it being part of an overall plan that would be subject to approval by elected officials," Ravitch said during a break.

 

A Bloomberg spokesman said the administration would review the concept and eagerly awaited the commission's report.

 

Some of the experts and advocates invited to speak at the hearing called for a payroll tax to provide a new and stable funding stream for the MTA.

 

Some urged another push for congestion pricing - derided by Councilman Lewis Fidler (D-Brooklyn), who noted, "It couldn't get on or off the proverbial floor in Albany."

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Look @ these desperate fools try to use the Manhattan, Brooklyn, Williamsburg and 59th Street (Queensboro) Bridges for their personal expense use b/c they desperate for money.....how dare (MTA) try to be that foolish. These bridges are free and should remain free and shouldn't be run by (MTA), its the City bridges. Bloomberg needs to leave office real fast b/c he knows his time is almost and he's trying to leave with a bang. Patterson already denied the congestion price and Bloomberg is trying to go around his back. I hope this get denied!

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Actually, this is not so bad an idea. Trying to set up the tolls is going to be trouble. Look at what runs on both bridges....SUBWAY LINES FOR CHRIST SAKE! It makes PERFECT sense!

 

And the MTA does well keeping up with their bridges and tunnels now.

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Actually, this is not so bad an idea. Trying to set up the tolls is going to be trouble. Look at what runs on both bridges....SUBWAY LINES FOR CHRIST SAKE! It makes PERFECT sense!

 

And the MTA does well keeping up with their bridges and tunnels now.

 

What if (MTA) has a strike? No traffic into, out of or inside of the city?

 

- A

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