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South Queens lawmaker, MTA initiate enforcement operations at bridges to the Rockaways, with more crackdowns coming soon

Aug. 11, 2023 By Bill Parry

After successful MTA crackdowns against persistent toll violators at the bridges and tunnels that connect Queens to Manhattan and the Bronx, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato initiated enforcement operations last month at the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge that links the Rockaways to the rest of the borough over Jamaica Bay.

The enforcement operation by MTA Bridge and Tunnel Officers primarily focused on interdicting drivers with suspended registrations due to unpaid tolls and fees, while looking for motorists who intentionally defraud the system by preventing their license plate or car registration from being recognized. Officers intercepted a dozen vehicles between Broad Channel and the Rockaway Peninsula which wracked up an estimated $150,000 in unpaid tolls and fines and some vehicles were not only ticketed but confiscated and impounded, according to Pheffer Amato.

Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato partnered with the MTA to crack down on persistent toll violators at crossings into the Rockaways. Courtesy of the MTA

“This partnership for combating toll evaders is incredibly welcomed in our community and I am so proud to be working with the MTA and TBTA Officers,” Pheffer Amato said. “This sends a clear message that anyone who deliberately scrapes their license plates, uses deflectors and covers, or false paper plates will be found and held accountable for paying tolls and following the law like everyone else.”

She added that she has partnered with NYS Troopers, TBTA Officers and local police in numerous operations to go after toll evaders since cashless tolls took effect at the Cross Bay Memorial Bridge in April 2017. Pheffer Amato also said there will be several surprise interception operations at the span in the coming months.

“We are proud to work alongside Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato on Cross Bay Bridge toll enforcement,” said MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Catherine Sheridan. “The revenues collected from these tolls and all other MTA facilities are critical to maintaining the integrity of transportation infrastructure. Motorists who purposefully evade these tolls risk interdiction of their vehicle, so the message is clear: pay your fair share.”

On July 12, the MTA also conducted enforcement at the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge that connects Breezy Point with Brooklyn as part of a citywide crackdown that was launched in June, with officers interdicting 315 vehicles, bringing the total to 1,650 vehicles between New Year’s Day and June 30. This represents a year-to-date increase of 77% and nearly $30 million in unpaid tolls and fees.

“Toll evasions at MTA Bridges and Tunnels will not be tolerated and if motorists try to evade paying their tolls they risk interdiction of their vehicle,” Sheridan said. “Our Bridge and Tunnel officers and other B&T agency departments, which support these enforcement operations, are dedicated to ensuring all vehicles crossing our facilities and paying their fair share.”

Bridge and Tunnel patrol vehicles are equipped with specialized and portable license plate readers that can identify motorists who are operating vehicles with a suspended registration to unpaid bills, which were used during the crackdown in the Rockaways.

“Our operation demonstrates our steadfast commitment to enforcement against those who consistently try to evade paying tolls,” MTA Bridges and Tunnels VP and COO Richard Hildebrand said. “Through these targeted efforts, and with the support of our regional law enforcement partners, we are sending a clear message to toll scofflaws that they cannot cheat the system.”

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