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Bridge Tolls With A Twist: 'Fairness' Pricing Proposed For East River Spans

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There is a new plan for changing the city's traffic patterns that would, yes, put tolls on the East River bridges, but dramatically drop the cost of traveling over other city spans.

The sponsor's claim is it's not congestion pricing; it's "fairness" pricing, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.

Most New Yorkers thought the Legislature drove a stake through the idea of tolls on the East River bridges idea when it twice refused to pass it as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan.

However, transportation expert Sam Schwartz says forget the part about charging cars to get into the heart of Manhattan -- just equalize the cost.

"This is a cockamamie system. Nobody in the country, probably in the world, has a free bridge. The Queensborough sandwiched between two toll crossings -- the Midtown Tunnel and the Triboro Bridge. That's insane," Schwartz said.

Under a plan developed by Schwartz for the transportation group Move NY, some people will pay more, some less, but everybody about the same.

* It would cost $5.33 round trip to cross the now-free Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensborough-Ed Koch bridges using E-ZPass.

* It would cost $5.66 round trip on the Robert F. Kennedy-Triboro, Throgs Neck and Bronx-Whitestone bridges.

Sponsors say the goal is fairness and changing the traffic patterns of some 400,000 people who cross the East River every day, so that drivers don't need to pick the cheapest route.

"Which means the direct path is the one you're going to take," Schwartz said.

Staten Islanders will also rejoice. They'll pay $5.66 for the Verrazano, down from the present $10.66.

The change must be sought by the city and approved by Albany. Sources close to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio said he wants to expend his political capital on getting the Legislature to tax the wealthy to fund universal pre-kindergarten.

And Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing re-election next year, is not a fan.

"It hasn't passed in the past and I don't believe it will pass now," Cuomo said.

The plan is also designed to appeal to people who live in neighborhoods near the free bridges, which are expected to get less traffic.

Supporters don't plan to go to the Legislature for a year or two, after Cuomo's re-election campaign is over and, they hope, after de Blasio has found money for his education agenda.

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