|Public benefit corporation|
|Founded||New York State (1933)|
|New York City|
|Daniel DeCrescenzo, Acting President|
|Revenue||US$1.9 billion (2017)|
|US$546 million (2017)|
Number of employees
|Parent||Metropolitan Transportation Authority|
The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), doing business as MTA Bridges and Tunnels, is an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that operates seven toll bridges and two tunnels in New York City. In terms of traffic volume, it is the largest bridge and tunnel toll agency in the United States, serving more than a million people each day and generating more than $1.9 billion in toll revenue annually as of 2017. As of 2018[update], its budget was $596 million, funded through taxes and fees.
The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority was founded in 1933 as the Triborough Bridge Authority (TBA). The agency was named after its first crossing, the Triborough Bridge. The Triborough Bridge Authority was reorganized as the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority in 1946, and subsequently began using the name MTA Bridges and Tunnels in 1994. In addition to operating all nine toll crossings located entirely within New York City, the TBTA also controlled several buildings such as the New York Coliseum and the East Side Airline Terminal, both of which have been demolished.
The seven bridges are:
- Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (colloquially known by its previous name, the Triborough Bridge) is the agency's flagship crossing, and its original namesake. It connects Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens, via Randalls and Wards Islands, and is named after the assassinated former United States Senator from New York, Robert F. Kennedy.
- Bronx–Whitestone Bridge, which connects the Bronx and Queens.
- Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Staten Island.
- Throgs Neck Bridge, which connects the Bronx and Queens.
- Henry Hudson Bridge, which connects Manhattan and the Bronx.
- Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, which connects Brooklyn and the Rockaways in Queens. It is co-named after former Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Mets first baseman, and later Mets' manager, Gil Hodges
- Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, which connects Broad Channel to the Rockaways, both in Queens.
The two tunnels are:
- Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (colloquially known by its former name, the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel), connects Brooklyn and Manhattan. It is named after former New York State Governor Hugh L. Carey.
- Queens–Midtown Tunnel, which connects Queens and Manhattan.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels was originally founded as the Triborough Bridge Authority (TBA), which was organized to head the construction of the Triborough Bridge. The structure had started construction in 1929 but stalled during the Great Depression due to a lack of funding.:340–344 In February 1933, a nine-person committee applied to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) for a $150 million loan for projects in New York state, including the Triborough Bridge. However, although the RFC favored a loan for the Triborough project, the mayor at the time, John P. O'Brien, banned the RFC from giving loans to the city. Instead, O'Brien wanted to create a bridge authority to sell bonds to pay for the construction of the Triborough Bridge as well as for the planned Queens–Midtown Tunnel between Manhattan and Queens. Robert Moses, the New York City parks commissioner, also pushed the state legislature to create an authority to fund, build, and operate the Triborough Bridge.:340–344
A bill to create the TBA passed quickly through both houses of the state legislature, and was signed by Governor Herbert H. Lehman that April. The bill included a provision that the authority could sell up to $35 million in bonds and fund the remainder of construction through bridge tolls. George Gordon Battle, a Tammany Hall attorney, was appointed as chairman of the new authority, and three commissioners were appointed.
In its first year, the TBA was in turmoil: by January 1934, one of the TBA's commissioners had resigned, and New York City Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia was trying another TBA commissioner, John Stratton O'Leary, for corruption. As a result, Public Works Administration (PWA) administrator Harold L. Ickes refused to distribute parts of the RFC grant allotted to the Triborough Bridge, until the existing funds could be accounted for. After O'Leary had been removed, La Guardia appointed Moses to the open commissioner's position, and Ickes gave the city $1.5 million toward the bridge's construction. Moses became the chairman of the TBA in April 1934, after a series of interim chairmen had held the post.
Moses leveraged his leadership of the Triborough Bridge Authority, as well as the state and city positions he also held, to expedite the Triborough project.:392–394 The Triborough Bridge opened on July 11, 1936.:440–443 The TBA subsequently constructed a second bridge, the Bronx–Whitestone Bridge, between the Bronx and Queens. Construction started in 1937 and the bridge opened on April 29, 1939, in time for the 1939 New York World's Fair in Queens. Moses had proposed a third bridge, the Brooklyn-Battery Bridge, on the site of what is now the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. However, the United States Department of War ultimately rejected the Brooklyn-Battery Bridge as an impediment to shipping, since it would obstruct access from the New York Harbor to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Under the chairmanship of Robert Moses, the agency grew in a series of mergers with four other agencies. In January 1940, as part of a deal to build an approach to the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel, Moses proposed merging the New York City Parkway Authority, which operated the Henry Hudson, Marine Parkway, and Cross Bay Bridges. The City Parkway Authority was merged with the TBA on February 9, 1940. The Parkway Authority had already been merged with the Henry Hudson Parkway Authority, which operated the Henry Hudson Bridge, and with the Marine Parkway Authority, which operated the Marine Parkway Bridge. This gave the TBA complete control of all parkways and toll bridges located entirely in New York City. The same bill revoked the TBA's right to build a bridge from Brooklyn to the Battery. In 1945, with the pending merger of the Triborough Bridge Authority and the New York City Tunnel Authority, the former was renamed the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. The authority operated the Queens–Midtown Tunnel and was building the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel. The merger was finalized in 1946. The TBTA completed the construction of the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel, which opened to traffic on May 25, 1950.
Generating millions of dollars in toll revenue annually, the TBTA easily became a powerful city agency as it was capable of funding large capital projects. From the 1940s to the 1960s, the TBTA built the Battery Tunnel Parking Garage, Jacob Riis Beach Parking Field, the New York Coliseum, and the East Side Airlines Terminal.
Aside from toll crossings, one of the TBTA's most profitable properties was the New York Coliseum, an office building and convention center at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. The complex cost $35 million to build, of which $26.5 million came from toll revenues collected by the TBTA. The Coliseum, which became the New York City's major convention center, had a tax agreement with the city wherein the city government would collect a portion of the TBTA's revenue rather than collect taxes on the Coliseum property. Within the first ten years of the Coliseum's opening, the city had collected almost $9.1 million from the TBTA. This special tax arrangement continued until the property was sold in 1998.
The TBTA built two additional bridges in the 1960s. The Throgs Neck Bridge, a project to alleviate traffic on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, started construction in 1957 and opened on January 11, 1961. The long-planned Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which had been proposed as far back as the 1920s,:135 started construction in 1959 and was opened on November 21, 1964. Because of higher-than-expected traffic on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, the TBTA built a second deck on that bridge in 1969.
Merger with MTA
In January 1966, New York City Mayor John Lindsay proposed merging the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA), which operated buses and subways in New York City, with the TBTA to create the Metropolitan Commuter Transit Authority (MCTA). While Governor Nelson Rockefeller offered his "complete support" for Lindsay's proposed unified transit agency, Robert Moses called the proposed merger "absurd" and "grotesque" for its unwieldiness. Lindsay then proposed a bill in the state legislature that would allow the mayor to appoint a majority of the members in the new city-run transportation agency, but this was rejected.:229 In June 1966, Rockefeller announced his plans to expand the MCTA's scope to create a new regional transit authority to encompass the existing MCTA, as well as the NYCTA and TBTA. Lindsay disagreed, saying that the state and city should have operationally separate transit authorities that worked in tandem. In early 1967, Rockefeller proposed merging the NYCTA and TBTA into the MCTA, as well as creating a $2.5 billion bond issue to fund transportation improvements.:231 On May 3, 1967, Rockefeller signed a bill that allowed the MCTA to oversee the mass transit policies of New York City-area transit systems and the TBTA by the following March.
Initially, the TBTA was resistant to the MCTA's efforts to acquire it. Moses was afraid that the enlarged MCTA would "undermine, destroy or tarnish" the integrity of the TBTA, One source of contention was Rockefeller's proposal to use TBTA tolls in order to subsidize the cheap fares of the NYCTA, since Moses strongly opposed any use of TBTA tolls for use by outside agencies. Moses agreed to merge the TBTA into the MCTA in March 1967, and he even campaigned in favor of the transit bond issue.:231 In February 1968, the TBTA's bondholders finally acquiesced to the MCTA's merger proposal.
On March 1, 1968, the MCTA dropped the word "Commuter" from its name and became the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The MTA took over the operations of the other New York City-area transit systems as well as the TBTA. Moses was relieved from his job as chairman of the TBTA, although he was retained as a consultant. Moses stated that TBTA construction projects would reduce the MTA's budget surplus through 1970. Surplus revenue, formerly used for new automobile projects, was then used to support public transportation.
Since the merger, more than $10 billion has been contributed by the TBTA to subsidize mass transit fares and capital improvements for the New York City Transit, Long Island Rail Road, and Metro-North Railroad. The MTA Bridges and Tunnels trading name was adopted in 1994. The name Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority is still the legal name of the Authority.
The Authority has less than 465 Bridge and Tunnel officers who are New York State peace officers who perform tasks such as directing traffic, helping motorists, performing patrols and selected security duties at the nine intra-city crossings, as well as other miscellaneous duties. In addition, about 150 New York State Police officers and 150 New York National Guardsmen are assigned to policing and counter-terrorism activities.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels collects the vast majority of its tolls through E-ZPass, an electronic toll collection system. E-ZPass was introduced at MTA Bridges and Tunnels crossings between 1995 and 1997.
In October 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that tollbooths would be removed at all bridges to speed up traffic. Since September 30, 2017, all MTA Bridges & Tunnels facilities have collected tolls through open-road cashless tolling. Tollbooths previously in place have been dismantled, and drivers will no longer be able to pay cash at the crossings. Instead, cameras mounted onto new overhead gantries collect the tolls. While some are located where toll booths were previously located, others are located at the opposite ends of the facilities. A vehicle without E-ZPass has a picture taken of its license plate and a bill for the toll is mailed to its owner. For E-ZPass users, sensors will detect their transponders wirelessly.
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- "STATE BOARD TO ASK $150,000,000 OF R.F.C.; Moses Will Hold a Hearing Monday to Decide Which Projects to Recommend. SPEEDY ACTION IS SOUGHT Committee and Smith Going to Capital to Press for Loans -- Housing and Tunnel on List. STATE TO ASK R.F.C. FOR $150,000,000". The New York Times. February 4, 1933. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
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- "CITY BRIDGE BOARD SOUGHT BY O'BRIEN; Mayor Wants Agency Like the Port Authority to Finance Triborough Project. BONDS WOULD BE ISSUED Tolls to Pay Them Off -- Smith and Curry Are Reported in Favor of the Proposal". The New York Times. March 29, 1933. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "LEHMAN TO DEMAND ACTION ON CHARTER; Message Is Expected When the Desmond-Moffat Proposal Is Taken Up Today. BRIDGE BILLS ARE PASSED Assembly Sends the Tri-Borough Span Authority Measures to the Governor". The New York Times. April 5, 1933. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
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- "BRIDGE OFFICIAL QUITS UNDER FIRE; Lemmerman Faced Charge of Taking Fee in Lease of Office to Tri-Borough Authority". The New York Times. January 11, 1934. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "LAGUARDIA TO TRY A BRIDGE OFFICIAL AS TOOL OF BOSSES; O'Leary, Member of Triborough Board, Called for Removal Hearing on Jan. 25". The New York Times. January 14, 1934. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "TRIBOROUGH FUNDS TIED UP ICKES; Bars Further Grants Until He Is Assured Bridge Project Will Be Properly Handled. CALLS FOR AN ACCOUNTING Authority Asks for Writ to Bar LaGuardia From Hearing Charge Against O'Leary. TRIBOROUGH FUNDS TIED UP BY ICKES". The New York Times. January 16, 1934. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
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- "$68,000,000 LOANS FOR PWA PROJECTS WON BY LAGUARDIA; Mayor in Washington Gets Promise of $1,500,000 Now for Triborough Bridge. ICKES PRAISES NEW BOARD $20,000,000 for Housing Plan Ready -- $4,000,000 Granted for Disposal Plant. $68,000,000 LOANS WON BY LAGUARDIA". The New York Times. February 6, 1934. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
- "Plain Sailing for Triborough Bridge Project". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. February 10, 1934. p. 3. Retrieved November 6, 2018 – via Brooklyn Public Library; newspapers.com.
- "O'LEARY IS OUSTED; MOSES GETS POST; Mayor Dismisses Triborough Bridge Official as Deutsch Finds He Shirked Duties. FUSION CONTROLS BOARD Burkan Only Tammany Man Left -- High Salaries and Needless Jobs Denounced. O'LEARY IS OUSTED; MOSES GETS POST". The New York Times. February 4, 1934. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
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- "GREAT LINK IS ACCLAIMED; People Demanding Such Up-to-Date Projects, Roosevelt Says. TALK SEEN AS CHALLENGE Ickes and Moses Praise Each Other as They Meet for the First Time. LEHMAN GRATEFUL TO U.S. Mayor Also Hails Government -- Olympic Stadium on Island Dedicated. VIEWS OF YESTERDAY'S CEREMONIES AT THE OPENING OF THE NEW $60,300,000 TRIBOROUGH BRIDGE ROOSEVELT OPENS TRIBOROUGH SPAN". The New York Times. July 12, 1936. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
- "MAYOR LAYS STONE FOR BRONX BRIDGE; Ceremony Marks Completion of Anchorage Foundation for Whitestone Span". The New York Times. November 2, 1937. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
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- "BRIDGE AT BATTERY PROPOSED BY MOSES; Tandem Spans to Brooklyn Can Be Built for Half the Cost of Tunnel, He Finds NO FEDERAL LOAN NEEDED Letter to La Guardia Points to Easier Financing and Greater Speed in Construction Eight Reasons Are Listed New Idea, Says Official". The New York Times. 1939. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
- "BATTERY BRIDGE REJECTED BY WOODRING AS WAR PERIL; MAYOR REVIVES TUBE PLAN; NAVY YARD DANGER Army Head Says It Would Be Cut Off by Wrecking of SpanMOSES IS NOT SURPRISEDSees 'Sabotaging' of Protect inWashington--La Guardiato Work for Tunnel". The New York Times. July 18, 1939. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
- "Battle for New Boro-Battery Traffic Link". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. July 18, 1939. pp. 1, 4. Archived from the original on March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 19, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
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- "Lehman's O.K. of Crews' Bill Paves Way for Battery Tunnel". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. February 9, 1940. p. 40. Retrieved November 14, 2018 – via Brooklyn Public Library; newspapers.com.
- "TOLL-POOLING BILL SIGNED; Lehman Approves TriboroughParkway Authorities Merger". The New York Times. February 9, 1940. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
- "NEW PARKWAY BOARD PLANS BOND ISSUE; City Authority to Use Part of $18,000,000 for Refunding". The New York Times. March 23, 1938. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
- "ASSEMBLY PASSES TOLL-POOLING BILL; Votes 132-13 to Join Groups Operating Henry Hudson and Triborough Bridges RACE BIAS BAN ADOPTED Unions Must Not Discriminate --Signature Registration Is Asked in New Bill". The New York Times. February 6, 1940. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
- "TUNNEL AUTHORITY BEING REORGANIZED; Shortridge Displaced as the General Manager, Singstad Dropped as Chief Engineer MOSES HEADS THE AGENCY Initial Steps Announced in the Consolidation With Triborough Bridge Authority Here McLaughlin in Tunnel Post La Guardia Not in Accord". The New York Times. July 26, 1945. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
- "Dewey Affirms Authority Merger". The New York Times. April 24, 1946. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
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- Gossett, Carl T. (April 29, 1956). "COLISEUM OPENED; CROWDS FLOCK IN TO SEE 3 EXHIBITS; High Officials Snip Ribbon in Center That Was Built at Cost of $35,000,000 MAYOR HAILS PROJECT 125,000 View Stamp, Photo and Motor Car Shows in the First-Day Rush 'Unequaled on Face of Globe' COLISEUM OPENED; CROWDS FLOCK IN Box Offices Busy at Once Moses Tells of Difficulties City Gain in Taxes Noted". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
- Knowles, Clayton (April 28, 1956). "BRIDGE REVENUES BUILT NEW CENTER; Loan Held to $9,500,000-- Rest of Construction Paid by Tolls and Income COST PUT AT 35 MILLION Agency Will Liquidate Notes Next Year and Cancel Out All Its Debt by 1969". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
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- "ROCKEFELLER SEEKS REGIONAL AGENCY TO DIRECT TRANSIT; It Would Include Subway and Bridge Authorities and L.I. Rail Road BILL UNDER STUDY NOW Commuter Organization for Metropolitan Area May Get More Powers ROCKEFELLER SEEKS MASS TRANSIT UNIT". The New York Times. June 3, 1966. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
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- "TRIBOROUGH FUNDS ARE AGAIN SOUGHT TO SAVE 20C FARE; Governor and Mayor Study Way to Include Authority in Metropolitan Program AID TO LINDSAY IS AN AIM Move Would Avoid Another Fare Rise Before Election No Comment by Moses TRIBOROUGH AID ON FARE REVIVED". The New York Times. February 28, 1967. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
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- "Moses Says Triborough Projects Will Absorb Surpluses Until '69". The New York Times. March 31, 1967. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
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- Staff (October 5, 2016). "Governor Cuomo Announces Transformational Plan to Reimagine New York's Bridges and Tunnels for 21st Century". governor.ny.gov. Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Retrieved November 15, 2018.
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- Official website
- TBTA Copyright page
- "History and Projection of Traffic, Roll Revenues, and Expenses and Review of Physical Conditions of the Facilities of Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority"