New York State Bridge Authority
The New York State Bridge Authority (or NYSBA) is a public benefit corporation in New York State, United States. The NYSBA was born out of the necessity for a bridge over the Hudson River to link the city of Hudson and the village of Catskill.
The origin of the NYSBA was also embodied in the Great Depression during the 1930s and 1940s. State finances were in short supply and an originally proposed plan for the state to build the Rip Van Winkle Bridge was vetoed by then Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. A possible precursor to the New Deal, Roosevelt supported the creation of an Authority, separate from state finances.
On March 31, 1932, Roosevelt signed into law a bill sponsored by Greene County Assemblyman Ellis Bentley that created the Bridge Authority as an entity that would issue toll revenue bonds to pay for what would become the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.
In 1933, during the construction of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, the Authority acquired the Mid-Hudson Bridge, originally built by the State Department of Public Works in 1930.
Of note, the toll for a round trip across the Mid-Hudson Bridge for a car with 3 passengers in 1933 was $2.20, more than the $1.50 charged today. The 1933 $1 toll for a one horse wagon is no longer charged.
The Rip Van Winkle Bridge was dedicated in 1935.
The Bear Mountain Bridge, originally built by a private venture in 1923, was sold to the Authority in 1940.
The Authority dedicated the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge in 1957, the first span of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge in 1963 and the second span in 1980.
The NYSBA has been self-sufficient throughout its more than seventy-five year history, operating without Federal or State tax monies and reinvesting toll revenues to continue to maintain and improve these vital Hudson River Crossings.
The Bridge Authority charges an auto toll of $1.50 for eastbound traffic on all five bridges. The last rate increase was January 30, 2012, a 50 cent increase from the prior rate of $1.00. Commercial tolls are based on axle count. NYSBA is a member of the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system.
The Bridge Authority operates all 5 of the road bridges on the Hudson between, but not including, the New York State Thruway Authority's two bridges: Tappan Zee Bridge to the south and the Berkshire Extension bridge to the north, known as the Castleton Bridge.
The law creating the New York State Bridge Authority is found in the Bridge Authority Act, currently Sections 525 to 542 of the New York Public Authorities Law and defines the Bridge Authority’s mission as “to maintain and operate the safe vehicle crossings over the Hudson River entrusted to its jurisdiction for the economic and social benefit of the people of the State of New York.”
The crossings listed in the statute are: the Rip Van Winkle Bridge between Hudson and Catskill; the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge; the Mid-Hudson Bridge between Poughkeepsie and Highland; the parallel Newburgh-Beacon spans; and the Bear Mountain Bridge.
The Authority believes its mandate imposes a responsibility to provide reliable, safe and convenient access across the river to all lawful traffic and to achieve that goal within the framework of a sound long-term financial policy. The elements of that policy are:
An unqualified commitment to meet all obligations to the bondholders in the full letter and spirit of the Authority’s General Revenue Bond Resolution and the covenants made therein; A vigorous, integrated program of inspection, maintenance, repair and rehabilitation to insure the structural integrity of its facilities and the safety of its patrons; Control of expenditures to the extent consistent with prudent stewardship and responsible administration; and The lowest possible toll rates which at the same time enable the Authority to meet its obligations and responsibilities as well as provide for adequate financial reserves.
The New York State Bridge Authority has a police force of approximately 100 sworn police officers who are assigned to Bridge Authority facilities. The officers are unarmed, but are equipped with a baton, can of pepper spray, handcuffs, whistle, flashlight, reflective traffic vest, bullet resistant vest, and a radio that is directly linked to the Central Dispatcher and other officers.
All the NYSBA bridges in north to south order
- Rip Van Winkle Bridge (cantilever truss)
- Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge (continuous under-deck truss)
- Mid-Hudson Bridge (suspension bridge)
- Newburgh-Beacon Bridge (cantilever truss)
- Bear Mountain Bridge (suspension bridge)