Readers’ Reactions to Funding Tappan Zee Bridge Construction

A $3.9 billion project to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River and next to the current dilapidated one will largely be financed with bonds that will be paid for by tolls, officials said.Richard Perry/The New York TimesA $3.9 billion project to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River and next to the current dilapidated one will largely be financed with bonds that will be paid for by tolls, officials said.

There is something about a toll that can drive drivers and nondrivers alike to, well, intense expressions of fury.

An article in The New York Times on Wednesday about the uncertainty of paying for the construction of a $3.9 billion replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge — making higher tolls seem inevitable — elicited a striking number of comments from readers, more than 100 in less than 24 hours.

Commenters complained about the steep price of the likely tolls or complained about the complainers, suggesting they deserve to pay for choosing to live in what one reader called “sprawlsville.” Others objected to paying tolls to subsidize subway riders while some subway riders thought the tolls should go even higher to punish automobile drivers for despoiling the environment.

Several also wondered why the drivers who use the 580-mile-long Thruway are not being asked to chip in as Thruway drivers, a reader claimed, now help subsidize the Erie Canal and other state waterways. Some thought that all taxpayers should help pay for the bridge just as many homeowners finance schools their children do not use. At least one writer thought the bridge should be torn down and replaced with a ferry.

Some commenters seemed riveted by the accompanying photograph of the bridge, with “Kentuckywoman” from Louisville declaring: “Well, I have to say, it is one ugly, really, really, REALLY ugly bridge they propose to build!” while Charlie of New Jersey, disagreed, maintaining, “I have to say I like the design.”

Here were excerpts of some choice remarks:

Jeff Utz, Brooklyn, N.Y.: “I am disappointed that the state didn’t work the financing first. That’s like building a house with a good cost estimate or not knowing how much you are going to make so you can pay the mortgage.”

D M Markowitz, Albany: “Article points to George Washington Bridge toll of $13 and calls the $5 TZB toll “artificially low.” I’d say $5 is about right and the GWB $13 is INSANELY HIGH.”

Huss, N.Y. : “I would like my property taxes only to reflect what I actually ‘use’-the bits of local road I use; I never put out garbage on the second pick up of the week (one is enough), have no kids in local school…etc. The idea that only people driving over the TZ should pay its construction costs is ridiculous.”

Barbara, Nyack, N.Y.: “In fact hundreds of millions of dollars have recently been spent improving the current bridge, which the DOT rates as ‘functionally obsolete’ – not ‘structurally deficient’ like scores of other bridges in the state that are not being repaired or replaced. This new bridge is a boondoggle that we cannot afford.”

Rob, Westchester, N.Y.: “If tolls are priced artificially low, won’t this induce more driving? A faster bridge trip means a faster commute from sprawlsville. Those Rockland and Orange County sprawl developers are already eyeing new farms to build on, with marketing materials touting the short commute.”

Paul, White Plains: “Ask the mass transit question. How much of the toll revenues is being funneled to subsidize NYC mass transit? Crossing the Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges now costs $7.50 each way! 80% of their toll revenue goes to subsidizing the bus and subway fares in NYC.”

Jeff, Evanston, Ill.: “This country has let its infrastructure decay, and now we are finding it necessary to replace or rebuild a huge number of bridges and tunnels. The Tappan Zee is just one example. Sorry, folks, it’s going to cost a lot of money, and we’ll all need to chip in. The Republican mantra of lowering taxes and reducing the size of government just doesn’t make sense in this context. Not unless you want to be on the next bridge that collapses or in the next tunnel that caves in.”

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