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Economist: No huge toll on Tappan Zee replacement

What are the chances Tappan Zee Bridge drivers will be smacked with a whopping $15 toll -- the cost of crossing from Brooklyn to Staten Island on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge?

Or how about the $13 toll -- $14 by December 2014 -- that George Washington Bridge motorists pay to cross the Hudson from northern New Jersey?

Not likely, says Charles Komanoff, a transportation economist who has studied the state Thruway Authority's financial plan for replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge and its potential impact on tolls.

Komanoff estimates that if the Thruway Authority's current funding plan holds, the Tappan Zee's $5 toll would increase to somewhere between $8 and $10 to pay back the cost of replacing the bridge.

He thinks linking the metropolitan area's costlier bridges to future Tappan Zee Bridge tolls misses the point.

"I continue to feel it's misleading to compare Tappan Zee Bridge tolls to the George Washington or the Verrazano, at least for residents of Rockland, Westchester, and nearby counties," Komanoff said.

"The idea that TZB tolls will be less than -- or at least no greater than -- the George Washington Bridge or the Verrazano is much less salient than the fact that they will be going up considerably," he said.

Besides, says the Manhattan-based Komanoff, people commuting into the city have more options.

"There are a myriad ways to cross the Hudson down here -- bus, ferry, train, even bicycle," Komanoff said.

"In the Hudson Valley, it's pretty much just auto."

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