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Sound Bites: Nearly 3 million tolls dodged at MTA crossings last year

Traffic traverses 42nd Street near Grand Central Terminal.
Mary Altaffer
Traffic traverses 42nd Street near Grand Central Terminal.

Good morning. New York drivers avoided paying nearly 3 million tolls at Metropolitan Transportation Authority bridges and tunnels last year. 

  • 224,000 tolls were dodged monthly on average
  • Police issued nearly 18,000 summonses at MTA crossings, including 3,000 tickets for obstructed license plates and 26 arrests for forged plates
  • Despite the toll avoidances, over $2.4 billion in toll revenue was generated last year, up nearly 3% from 2022

In Suffolk County, drivers used similar tactics to avoid an estimated 20,000 speed camera tickets last year. Officials believe the rise in toll avoidance stemmed from increased automated enforcement and rising toll costs. 

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing:

Six new or refurbished bridges were completed on Long Island. Since 2022, the state Department of Transportation has invested $48.2 million into projects to improve traffic flow and the resilience of bridges against severe weather. The projects created over 600 jobs to help boost the local economy.

Connecticut lost 2,500 jobs in December, increasing the state’s unemployment rate to 3.8%. According to the state Department of Labor, December was an outlier compared to the rest of 2023, which saw the state gain 22,700 jobs. Despite the recent losses, 2023 and 2022 had the highest job growth since 1999.

Lake Compounce will remove the popular attractions: Bumper Cars, Jolly Jester and Trolley later this year. Located in Bristol, the country’s oldest operating amusement park will remove these rides in order to invest more resources towards more popular attractions, according to Hearst Media Connecticut. Lake Compounce plans to reopen this spring.

A Muslim woman is suing Suffolk County after police forced her to remove her hijab during a 2022 arrest. Marowa Fahmy was forced to remove her hijab in front of a male officer following an arrest when her son filed a false domestic complaint against her. Fahmy is suing the county and police department for violating her First Amendment rights. Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine said in a statement that a person’s religious beliefs are essential to democracy and he will review police policies.

Hamden’s HighBazaar cannabis-gathering events were canceled after state Attorney General William Tong threatened the organization with an injunction. Tong conducted an investigation into HighBazaar and found it’s been operating without a cannabis license since 2022. Multiple illegal and potentially dangerous cannabis products were found at HighBazaar’s markets. A conference will be held to determine HighBazaar's fate in February.

Islip is striving to force Suffolk County to shut down a Bay Shore homeless shelter. Town officials claim in a lawsuit that the shelter failed to comply with local zoning and building codes and the county failed to properly inform the public the shelter would be operated from Bay Shore. They further claimed the three buildings used for the shelter are only designated as motels and not shelters. Residents are concerned the shelter may lower local property values and increase crime rates.

The Long Island Business Institute shut down its educational programs. The reason for this sudden shutdown is currently unknown. Empire State University offered the institute’s 500 students enrollment in its spring 2024 academic terms in order to help them complete their studies. Of those students, 400 have already expressed interest in Empire.

Actress and singer Julie Andrews will direct “The Great American Musical” at Branford’s Legacy Theatre this summer. The musical is based on Andrews’ very own children's book of the same name first published in 2006. It depicts a group of mice who strive to keep their theater open when it’s threatened with demolition. The musical will run from July 11-28 with ticket prices ranging from $25 to $50.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.