Adriano Espaillat Reaffirms Love of Traffic, Distaste for Tolls

We wondered a few months back why Upper Manhattan Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat, a supporter of congestion pricing, would side with the usual suspects in opposing Ravitch-backed East and Harlem River bridge tolls. At the time, Espaillat told Streetsblog readers that new tolls would place an unfair burden on his district, and blamed MTA financial woes on "contemptible bookkeeping and abject failure to control spending."

espaillatsander.jpgEt tu, Adriano? Photo: Brad Aaron
Espaillat didn't make his true views on MTA deviance and recklessness known a year earlier when, joined by Lee Sander, he called pricing -- which, of course, was also intended to provide much-needed transit funding -- "a rational, practical solution to a very serious problem." But now he's reading from a different script, going so far as to claim that Upper Manhattanites prefer higher fares and reduced transit service to bridge tolls.

At a "town hall" meeting in Inwood last Thursday, Streetsblog reader Peter Brinkmann again found the assemblyman indifferent to concerns about auto-inflicted quality of life issues. Writes Peter:

In response to my question about distorted traffic patterns caused by car commuters who take the Broadway bridge [into and out of Inwood] in order to avoid paying the toll for Henry Hudson Bridge, he launched into his usual routine about how East River bridge tolls would be a regressive tax on families; he didn't address the issue of a residential neighborhood serving as a bypass for a major artery. When asked about possibly repaving 218th Street, he seemed to be in favor, in part because 218th Street draws a lot of traffic from drivers who want to avoid Henry Hudson Bridge. In other words, he's aware of distorted traffic patterns and doesn't seem to have a problem with them.

Peter says Espaillat "dismissed the upcoming MTA fare hike as nothing more than a regular increase and didn't address the bigger problem of service cuts." If you're confused as to how a representative from a district where 80 percent of the population relies on transit could be so disconnected, here is Espaillat on the subject of planned improvements to two Inwood 1 train elevated platforms:

When talking about the upcoming renovation of the Dyckman and 207th St stations, he kept talking about the "1 and 9" trains. That might just be some NY verbal tic, like having to say "Z" after saying "J," but I suspect that he doesn't take the subway and hasn't noticed that the 9 train has gone the way of the dodo.

Based on Espaillat's performance during and since the doomsday debacle, we wouldn't be surprised.