Poll results mixed on a reorganized bridge toll plan

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"Would you support or oppose a plan to charge tolls on the East River bridges, which go into Manhattan, and at the same time reduce tolls on the bridges between the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island?" a Quinnipiac University pollster asked New York City voters earlier this month.

The voters were divided, 49 percent against, 41 percent in favor.

The numbers varied a bit by borough, with a solid majority of Staten Island residents (55 percent) and a plurality of Bronx residents (49 percent) in favor, and a majority of respondents in Manhattan (54 percent), Queens (52 percent) and a plurality in Brooklyn (47 percent) opposed.

It's not clear what these numbers mean for traffic guru Sam Schwartz's new congestion pricing plan, which would put tolls on East River bridges, reduce them on outer borough bridges, and thereby cut congestion in Manhattan's central business district all the while raising money for New York City's mass transit system and road infrastructure.

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His plan is a rejiggered, more borough-friendly version of former mayor Michael Bloomberg's bridge-tolling plan, which died in Albany in 2008.

What is clear is that voters are much more opposed to East River bridges when tolls on outer-borough bridges are not lowered.

When pollsters didn't mention lowering tolls on those outer-borough bridges, support for putting them on East River bridges was only 23 percent.

That, itself, is a historical trend.

East River bridge tolls in 2008 were also unpopular on their own, but when they were framed as having some sort of ulterior, society-benefiting purpose, like bolstering funding for mass transit, a majority of voters supported them.