The launch of E-ZPass on the Atlantic Beach Bridge last month has brought change to the seven-decade-old structure that connects Atlantic Beach with Lawrence, and has also confused many residents and commuters.
Atlantic Beach, Long Beach, Lido Beach and Point Lookout residents who have E-ZPass accounts are currently the only drivers who are offered a discount on the bridge’s $3 toll: They pay $2.50, or $162.50 for an annual pass. But some say they are receiving rejection notices when they apply for the discount, leaving them no choice but to pay the regular toll.
Richard Brodsky, of Atlantic Beach, said that in order to receive the discount, he had to cancel his old E-ZPass account and apply for a new one. In the meantime, Brodsky said, he is spending roughly $100 a week in cash to cross the bridge.
“The whole thing is just confusing,” he said. “There’s a lack of coordination, and most people are old in the area. We just don’t understand it.”
Brodsky added that when he stopped at the Nassau County Bridge Authority headquarters, on the Lawrence side of the bridge, hoping to get some guidance, many other confused drivers were lined up there as well.
Carolynn Matulewicz, who’s also from Atlantic Beach, has heard that other residents have had problems signing up for the bridge discount, but she said she had no difficulty, and was pleased by how smooth the process was.
“It was no problem,” Matulewicz said. “We usually purchased two decals, one for each of our cars, and we signed up for two E-ZPasses, and it hasn’t been a problem.”
Pass cards and decals for bridge users were discontinued at the end of 2023.
Matulewicz, the director of the Peninsula Public Library, said that when she applied, she submitted not only her name, address and vehicle registration information but also the county in which her vehicles are insured. She received notification of her approval for the discount weeks later.
The bridge authority’s executive director, Raymond Webb, verified this method of signing up.
“The vehicle registration that is issued by the State Department of Motor Vehicles is the requirement,” Webb wrote in an email. “A sample photo of the registration document is posted on our website. (Not the sticker that is affixed to the vehicle windshield)”
The bridge, which originally opened in 1927, was replaced in 1952, and the current bridge was rebuilt in 1998. The bridge authority, established in 1945, has a five-member board of commissioners. It raised the basic toll from $2 to $3 at the beginning of 2023, the first increase since 2007.
The cashless toll system has been in operation since Dec. 13, and was celebrated with a ribbon cutting on Dec. 20. Drivers are advised to register their vehicles equipped with E-ZPass on the authority’s website, ncbaabb.com, or at its headquarters, at 160 Beach St. in Lawrence.
The authority reached an agreement with TRIMI Systems Integration, a service that specializes in electronic toll systems, to implement E-ZPass last February. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority sponsored the authority, allowing it to become an affiliated member of E-ZPass.
A flow chart on the authority’s website illustrates on how to sign up for E-ZPass and the local-resident discount, whether a driver already has an account or is new to the system. Those in the latter category are directed to the E-ZPass website to sign up.
“In the event of a rare anomaly we correct and remedy with a customer refund,” Webb wrote when asked if those who have applied for the discount, but have been denied and are paying the full bridge toll, are eligible for a refund if they reapply with the correct proof of registration. “This only if the customer has correctly followed the flow chart procedures for discount registration highlighted on our website.
“We have not declined or refused any valid customer refund requests,” Webb added, “and of course welcome any customers with E-ZPass inquiries to contact us at 516-239-6900 or through the website.”
Matulewicz, who had a decal valid through Dec. 31, said she was charged for a full year of discounted E-ZPass use with her new account on Dec. 15.
At the last month’s board meeting, people who signed up for the bridge’s E-ZPass before January 1, 2024, got a special offer, extending the expiration of their E-ZPass from one year to December 31 of this year by registering early. In simpler terms, it’s a way to give those who signed up early a bit more time before their E-ZPass expires.
Additional reporting by Parker Schug.
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