Bidding Farewell to the Verrazano-Narrows Defunct Toll Booths
MTA Chairman Jay Walder (center in white hat), and elected officials, watch as workers remove toll booth #1 sign from toll booth that will soon be removed. Photo Credit: Patrick Cashin, Metropolitan Transportation Authority. April 18, 2010
MTA and local officials recently gathered at the Verrazano-Narrows toll plaza for a final goodbye. The Brooklyn-bound toll booths, dormant since one-way tolling began on the bridge in 1986, will be torn down after 24 years.
Wearing yellow hard hats and construction gloves, officials, including Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and CEO Jay H. Walder, were handed parts of toll booth #1 as they were removed by workers.
The elected officials clapped and cheered as the #1 sign above the first toll booth was removed by MTA Maintainers John Melendez, Nick Cavaluzzi and Tom Devereux, followed by several more pieces of the booth.
The April 18th event marked the beginning of a year-long, $2.5 million project to demolish the first 8 east-bound toll booths.
This is very good news for our customers who will have a much easier trip through this area by early next year," MTA Chairman Walder said.
The toll booths will be demolished 24 years after one-way tolling at the bridge began as a six-month experiment in March 1986 at the urging of Staten Island elected officials. It was made permanent under the National Highway System Designation Act in 1995.
"The removal of these toll booths is the most significant change in the physical design of the bridge since the lower level was opened to traffic in 1969," said Bridges and Tunnels Acting President Ferrara. The upper level of the bridge opened in November 1964.
Others who attended included U.S. Rep. Michael McMahon, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, State Sen. Andrew Lanza, State Sen. Diane Savino, Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, and New York City Councilmember Debi Rose.
The booths will be removed two at time, beginning with the two located to the far right of the Brooklyn-bound toll plaza. The project also includes removing concrete islands, utilities, canopy structures, electronic signs, as well as concrete and asphalt restoration work.
The current nine lanes of traffic coming through the toll plaza will be maintained during peak driving times by shifting traffic around the construction zone. Some off-peak lane closures may be scheduled.
A second phase of the project, slated to last from 2011 until 2014, will include removal of the last three unused toll booths, realignment of the roadway to allow for higher speed vehicles and improvements to on and off ramps near the toll plaza.
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is the most-heavily traveled of the seven bridges and two tunnels operated by MTA Bridges and Tunnels, carrying 188, 000 vehicles daily in both directions.