Even as commuting takes a nosedive while Hudson Valleyites self-isolate at home, the Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson, Kingston-Rhinecliff, and Rip Van Winkle Bridges remain heavily trafficked by essential workers journeying from one side of the Hudson to the other.
Starting on May 1, they’ll be the first ones to experience the 10-cent E-ZPass toll increase once it goes into effect at each of the five Hudson River crossings.
According to the New York State Bridge Authority, the rise in toll rates is essential to properly maintain the bridges. A majority of the revenue will finance the re-decking of the north span of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, which is one of the busiest spans in the Hudson Valley.
In addition, the funds will assist with the upkeep of the Walkway Over the Hudson, a hot spot for Hudson Valley residents and tourists alike.
Notably, the 10-cent increase is just the beginning. The full toll revision will be phased in over the next four years, with an additional 10-cent hike every May 1 until 2023. Drivers without an E-ZPass will follow suit with slightly higher toll rates overall. At the end of the four years, E-ZPass drivers will pay $1.65 per bridge crossing, while drivers paying cash will owe $2.15.
Current rates are $1.25 for E-ZPass and $1.50 for cash. Starting on May 1, rates increase to $1.35 for E-ZPass and $1.75 for cash.
Ninety-seven percent of funding for the five bridges comes from the tolls collected at these crossings. Re-decking the north span of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge will provide local jobs for three years, the New York State Bridge Authority notes.
While the Hudson Valley continues to navigate the coronavirus crisis, the Bridge Authority strongly suggests that anyone who must travel should use E-ZPass or exact change so as to minimize contact and risk of contagion.