- Tolls on the $4 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement, dubbed the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in New York, would have to double to raise enough money for construction costs, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal, citing analysis by the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens Budget Commission.
- The group said the toll, which is now $5, would have to increase to $10.70. The projected figure is still almost $5 less than the toll on the Hudson River's George Washington Bridge, which, according to the commission, makes the Cuomo bridge a relative bargain.
- Raising the tolls along the 570-mile New York State Thruway by 24% could also cover the bridge's cost. The move would increase the toll for bridge by $1.19, but a system-wide toll hike, the group found, would be unfair to upstate drivers and would likely be unable to gain traction among legislators.
Tolls are oftentimes a hot-button issue, particularly in states like Texas where anti-tolling groups say having to pay fees to use roads built with taxpayer money should be considered a double tax. The Harris County Toll Road Authority in Houston came under scrutiny for the issue last year, but pushed back by asserting that local roads are paid for by system-wide toll collection and bond sales.
Still, "toll fatigue" among commuters helped lead Texas legislators to kill a measure in May that would have allowed public-private partnerships (P3s) to be used on $30 billion of state highway projects. One way public entities pay back private-sector consortia for designing, building, financing and operating a transportation project is to allow them to collect and keep toll revenue. In return, the government agency can leverage their funds across more projects and are able to take advantage of the private industry's expertise and ability to move the project along on a faster schedule.
There are toll-road projects that manage to make it through the approval process, however. The Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) is spending $1.25 billion on a 44-mile tollway extension to the Grand Parkway near Houston. Tapped by the TTC for its design-build services, the joint venture of Ferrovial Agroman US, Granite Construction and Webber, the new road will feature two toll lanes and passing sections and will cost commuters traveling its entire length $10.17. Despite concerns about over-tolling, other tolled portions of the road have seen significant increases in transactions.