Rally held against proposed tolls on East River bridges

Brooklyn officials and local residents held a rally Sunday against a Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposal to charge tolls on four of the bridges that cross

BROOKLYN - Brooklyn officials and local residents held a rally Sunday against a Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposal to charge tolls on four of the bridges that cross the East River.

The MTA has put forward a plan to charge tolls for cars driving across the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and 59th Street bridges, which are currently free to drivers. According to a state commission, the money brought in by the tolls would help close the MTA?s $1 billion budget gap.

Brooklyn officials, like Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Councilman David Weprin, joined residents in protesting the tolls. They say the charges discriminate against those who live in Brooklyn and drive into Manhattan.

?You?re adding an unbelievable burden on the back of 'Brooklynites,' more than anyone else in New York City and it's wrong,? Markowitz says.

Markowitz, Weprin and other officials are urging the commission to consider reinstating the commuter tax on non-residents who work in the city, which was cut in 1999 during a budget surplus.

?That tax alone would bring in...$713 million [in 2009],? Weprin says.

As another alternative to implementing tolls, Markowitz has also suggested a modest gas tax and a special lottery to benefit the MTA.

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