The Bridge revisited
So remember that whole bridge thing? Stephen Harrison had suggested eliminating the toll for residents of the district based on federal laws which require congressional districts to be compact and contiguous. Part of that plan was to implement High Speed EZPass.
Hating to be shown up by someone actually proposing 'ideas' Rep. Vito Fossella went on the attack trying to change the talk to two way tolls instead of toll elimination. Part of his made up criticism was that need toll features would drastically increase conjestion in the district.
What Vito failed to remember was his own involvement in bringing High Speed EZPass to the district when he managed to get funding for it on the Outerbridge Crossing, which we covered back in September;
U.S. Representative Vito Fossella said, “Staten Islanders want solutions to reduce the traffic congestion that is clogging our local roads, highways and bridges. The only way we are going to solve this problem is by utilizing new technologies and exploring innovative ideas. Highway-speed E-ZPass will improve traffic flow on Route 440 and on the bridge itself, reduce congestion and increase convenience for many Staten Island motorists. I am delighted to have secured $350,000 for this important traffic improvement project and thank the Port Authority for their commitment to enhancing commuting for Staten Island motorists using the Outerbridge Crossing.”
By the way this plan also garnered the praise of Republican Gov. Pataki. However to make matters worse for Vito, the SI Advance, who has been less then generous towards Harrison's campaign, actually followed up on this bridge issue;
As the candidates traded barbs, motorists driving the 407 Express Toll Route in Toronto cruise through a toll collection system without barriers, where transponder technology similar to E-ZPass collects tolls. Those without the device have a photo of their license plate snapped, and the system cross-references with vehicle registration data to dispatch a bill.
Harrison points to this configuration, installed in 1997, and variations in Melbourne, London and California, as evidence of how the system could work.
Canadian commuters have shaved an average of 30 to 45 minutes off their commutes each way, according to 407 ETR spokesman Dale Albers.
"It's extremely efficient," Albers said. "There's no lineup of vehicles queuing because you're not slowing down drivers."
The road is traveled by more than 340,000 cars daily, with 78 percent using transponder tags, and the rest, including American drivers, sent bills in the mail.
Now the Advance is very reluctant to even appear critical of Fossella on small matters, so this reporting is rather astounding. They could easily have gone without this follow up article and no one would have been the wiser. What is curious is whether they either are seeing through Fossella's mediocre representation or if they are starting to see that Harrison is the most competitive candidate this district has seen and are slowly warming up to the concept of actual ideas.
However, despite occasional hiccups, like drivers who change their addresses, 407 ETR boasts an accuracy rate higher than 99 percent, Albers noted.
Harrison believes the system could work here to collect the $267 million in annual tolls at the Verrazano.
A two-way toll would discourage trucks and travelers using only one side of the span, he says, and staggered toll prices could be used to discourage road-clogging trucks and rush-hour traffic.
So not only would this have the potential to reduce congestion caused by old toll booths, it could have the side benefit of having truck traffic rerouted. Surely Vito can find a problem with that, I have no doubt.
Jon Orcutt, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, called the high-speed toll-collection plan "feasible," adding that the MTA, one of the world's largest toll agencies and the only one in the region that has not yet implemented some form of high-speed toll, is "behind the curve."
Though Orcutt said Harrison's notion of exempting drivers in the congressional district from paying the toll is "absurd," he said the candidate is on the right track in terms of creating a more efficient and less polluting system by cutting back on idling at toll lanes.
Of course they couldn't go a whole article without at least a slight jab at Harrison, and having a non-government individual criticize the toll exemption worked for their needs. Needless to say the pros Mr. Orcutt cites in Harrison's plan clearly are reason enough to consider Harrison's plan as a starting point as opposed to Fossella's lack of a proposal. I guess Fossella is implementing his "stay the course" strategy on congestion and pollution. Hey it clearly has worked well for him on Iraq...