The Atlantic Beach Bridge opened in June 1927.

The Atlantic Beach Bridge opened in June 1927. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

The Nassau County Bridge Authority has announced a 50% toll increase per trip on all passenger vehicles using the Atlantic Beach Bridge — a move that will raise tolls from $2 to $3, beginning Jan. 1.

The toll for all vehicles registered outside Nassau will increase again — to $4 — when the new electronic tolling E-ZPass system takes effect in an expected midyear rollout.

It is the first toll increase on the bridge, which connects Atlantic Beach to Queens, since Jan. 1, 2007, officials said. The new toll rates will provide capital for planned improvements including: $5 million for the E-ZPass/Toll Plaza refurbishment; $5 million for bulkhead replacement to the bridge infrastructure; and $6 million for bridge cleaning, painting and other roadwork, officials said.

No additional toll increases are planned for at least the next five years, the authority said.

In making its announcement, the authority, which dates to 1945, said the toll increases were necessary because it receives no operating funding through state or federal tax dollars, meaning almost all of its revenue comes through tolls.

"Tolls are reinvested back into capital improvements on the Authority's Atlantic Beach Bridge span," the statement said, "ensuring the critical components of the infrastructure can continue serving the Nassau County Region for decades to come."

In a statement Tuesday, Nassau County Bridge Authority Chairman Samuel Nahmias said the increases came after a nearly $1 million annual loss each of the past three years, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and loss of toll revenue.

He said the authority was due to lose more than $2 million in 2023 — and, is “headed towards a path of insolvency” — without the proposed toll increases.

Nahmias said that after review, the authority determined that the implementation of an E-ZPass system was “sound and logical,” considering continuing issues from the current cash system, which caused traffic jams and customer complaints, especially during the summer.

Contrary to rumors about major toll increases stemming from the elimination of decal stickers for residents, he said, the new system will include an E-ZPass account option that will allow residents to add an “annual unlimited use” payment of $199 for bridge use. That option will cost nonresidents $349 annually.

The authority also will work toward reducing operating costs by limiting the drawbridge schedule for overnight openings and is exploring refinancing authority bonds, as well as the use of currently vacant authority land, to help defer future toll increases.

Among additional improvements, Nahmias said, will be adding “better LED lighting to the bridge, security cameras and having more police presence at the Bridge Authority.”

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