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Verrazano Improvements Expected To Speed Up Commute

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While drivers haven't paid a toll heading into Brooklyn over the Verrazano Bridge since 1986, it's taken until now for the toll booths to be completely removed in an effort to make commuting easier for Staten Island residents. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.

The unstaffed, unused toll booths on the Brooklyn-bound approach to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge are finally a thing of the past. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week finished two years of work to remove them so drivers no longer have to slow down to go through them when heading to Brooklyn.

"If you're not going to have the tolls then it probably makes a lot more sense to move it, this way you eliminate a lot of the traffic," said one driver.

Traffic along the stretch used to be caused by the 25 mile an hour slow-down at the approach to the bridge. While that speed limit still exists because of on-going construction at the plaza it is likely to be raised to 45 when the work is complete in 2015.

In the meantime, the removal of the toll booths means work can now begin on prepping the plaza for the next phase of construction.

"We're gonna have a new lower level connector ramp, which will take the traffic from the Staten Island Expressway to the lower level and at the same time we're gonna have a new set of fly-over ramps which will allow for the local ramps to access the upper level. This is going to be particularly beneficial to the bus traffic," said MTA Bridges and Tunnels Facility Engineer Dave Riggs.

All of the work is meant to improve the commuting experience for the roughly 95,000 drivers who cross the bridge every day.

The project runs in tandem with state Department of Transportation plans to improve the on and off ramps along the expressway.

Drivers who spoke with NY1 say they're excited about the improvements, but some expressed concerns about the possibility of increased speeding as drivers approached the bridge.

"Granted you could travel more freely, but hopefully it's not going to increase speeding but hopefully the traffic will flow better," said one driver.

"They forced people to slow down. Do you really want people to zoom through there? Top speed? It makes no sense," said another driver.

The MTA is already prepared for the possibility and says it has been working with the New York City Police Department and its own police officers to enforce the speed limit.

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