Tolls on the new Tappan Zee Bridge may have to hit the $10 mark to pay for the $4 billion construction costs, according to a report from a non-partisan watchdog group.
Released Friday by the Citizens Budget Commission in New York City, the report found that once tolls are unfrozen in 2020, tolls could hit $10 roundtrip -- up from $5 -- to pay for the new three-mile bridge's construction.
The report says a toll hike should probably happen: "Increasing the toll on the Cuomo Bridge is the most appropriate and equitable way to repay the loans and bonds used to build this bridge," said Carol Kellermann, president of the business-backed group.
"New York state and the Thruway Authority continue to avoid discussing what the new toll will be, and this report shows an increase is the best way to repay the debt."
The report, "Bridging the Financial Gap," estimate is based on projected annual debt service costs to repay loans and bonds the Thruway Authority used to finance the construction costs of the bridge.
Increases in tolls for passenger cars would need to increase as follows:
- For non-commuter passenger cars using E-ZPass, the estimated toll will need to be $9.67 to $10.61.
- For those not using E-ZPass, the toll is estimated to be between $10.20 and $11.19.
- For local residents utilizing the Thruway Authority's commuter plan, the toll will be $6.74 to $7.45.
"Despite being two times higher than current rates, this estimated toll level is still considerably less than the nearest alternative to the Cuomo Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, which has a toll of $15," the Commission said.
But the Citizens Budget Commission said the toll may be around the $10 mark because the state has bailed out the bridge's construction through bank settlements and aid from the state budget.
The estimated toll is also less than projections made by the state in 2012, which suggested a toll of up to $14 for passenger cars.
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