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Countdown of Top 5 Stories of 2023: Number 4

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A hike in the tolls on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, and all spans operated by the New York State Bridge Authority, received among our highest number of online views. It is our Number 4 story of 2023. File photo

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Greenville Pioneer is counting down the top 5 local stories of 2023. We looked at the top stories of the year, those that drew the highest number of readers to our website and Facebook page, or that had the greatest impact on our community and its residents. Here is the Number 4 story for the year.

Bridge tolls to rise May 1

CATSKILL — Tolls to cross the Rip Van Winkle Bridge will go up effective May 1.

The toll hike also affects the other four bridges operated by the New York State Bridge Authority — the Bear Mountain, Newburgh-Beacon, Mid-Hudson and Kingston-Rhinecliff bridges.

“These rates are the final phase of the [Bridge] Authority’s four-year toll revision that was initiated in 2020,” according to a statement from the Bridge Authority.

Drivers with E-ZPass currently pay $1.55 to cross the bridges in a car, pick-up truck or motorcycle; that rate will increase to $1.65.

With the bridges’ move to cashless tolling in March of last year, drivers without E-ZPass who pay by mail currently pay $2; they will be charged $2.15 with the new rates.

Commercial vehicles with two axles will see their E-ZPass rate go from $5.70 to $6.10, and those paying tolls by mail will have an increase from $7 to $8.

Larger vehicles will also see increases.

The new rates will take effect at midnight on May 1, and are the final increase in a four-year plan initiated in 2020, when the first increase took effect.

“Starting in 2020, the Bridge Authority began an incremental increase in toll rates on May 1 of each year, with the final phase taking effect on May 1, 2023,” according to the Bridge Authority statement. “Passenger cars with E-ZPass, which make up the majority of customers, have seen an increase of $0.10 each year during the toll revision. The toll rate schedule was approved in early 2020 after a lengthy public review and regulatory process.”

The toll increases will be reinvested into capital improvements on Bridge Authority spans, according to the agency.

“The Authority receives no operating funding through state or federal tax dollars, with nearly all of its revenue coming through tolls,” according to the statement. “Tolls are reinvested back into capital improvements on the Authority’s spans, ensuring these critical pieces of infrastructure can continue serving the Hudson Valley for decades to come.”

The organization encouraged drivers to sign up for E-ZPass, which offers a lower toll rate. E-ZPass tags can be purchased at e-zpassny.com or at designated retail locations.

The Rip Van Winkle Bridge connects Greene and Columbia counties. The bridge first opened in 1935, and passenger cars were charged $0.80 plus $0.10 for each passenger, with a maximum toll of $1, according to the Bridge Authority’s website. Trucks could be charged up to $1.50 per crossing. Tolls were charged in both directions.

A toll is currently charged on the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in one direction only, when driving from Greene to Columbia County.

The new toll rate takes effect at midnight on May 1.

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