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Tappan Zee toll plaza proposal irks South Nyack officials

The toll plaza for the Tappan Zee Bridge

The toll plaza for the Tappan Zee Bridge at midday in Tarrytown. (Jan. 11, 2013) Photo Credit: Xavier Mascarenas

The possibility of an electronic Tappan Zee Bridge toll plaza in South Nyack is drawing fire from some community officials.

The proposal would place an overhead steel gantry equipped with toll collection equipment above Westchester-bound lanes between South Franklin Street and the Route 9W overpasses at the end of the Exit 10 entrance ramp. Drivers go straight through without stopping and if a vehicle doesn't have an E-ZPass, a camera takes a picture of the license plate and a bill is mailed to the driver.

Some South Nyack officials, including Mayor Bonnie Christian, say they're worried the toll collection site could become permanent and interfere with possible commercial redevelopment in the area. Officials are hoping "to bring people in, the people that want to walk or bicycle-ride back and forth on the new bridge, and give them something, maybe a bicycle shop," Christian told News12. "Maybe have some food available in a small capacity."

Of the toll plaza proposal, she said, "We were really blindsided to hear that it was even a consideration."

Many are also concerned that the structure would be an eyesore to people whose homes overlook the Thruway.

Village officials say they want to give the state a fair chance to come back with another proposal and they might be open to the toll system on an interim basis.

State officials say no final decision has been made just yet and that they are looking at multiple sites for the new system. The current toll collecting site is in Tarrytown.

"We're trying to find alternate sites," Brian Conybeare, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's special adviser on the Tappan Zee project, told News12. "We understand their concerns and there are other possibilities and we're working on that right now."

Similar devices are already in place on the New York State Thruway in Harriman and on the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco went to electronic tolling last month.

The Tarrytown toll plaza is slated to be torn down, and electronic tolls must be in place by 2015. If not, Tappan Zee Constructors, which is building the replacement Tappan Zee Bridge that's planned to open by 2017, would have to pay a penalty of $35,000 per day as part of its contract.

A study is under way to determine if electronic tolling will eventually be the permanent system for the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

"We think it is the future but no final decision has been made," Conybeare said.

South Nyack and state officials are scheduled to meet next week to talk more about the idea.

With News12

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