Atlantic Beach Bridge toll hike hits small business owners especially hard
The cost to cross the Atlantic Beach Bridge is up for all drivers but the increase has been especially hard on some small business owners.
At the beginning of the year, the toll for regular passenger vehicles went from $2 to $3. For commercial vehicles, like vans and trucks, the price has doubled, with some paying as much as $16 for a one-way trip.
Mario Borriello, a contractor whose business is closely linked to the bridge, now has to pay $8 instead of $4 to cross. He says that is too much for him to make ends meet.
"Every time I go over, it's eight bucks," Borriello says. "So, if I go over four or five times, it adds up."
He says he is driving four and a half miles out of his way to use the free bridge in Long Beach.
Vans and small trucks have to pay the $8 price tag to cross the bridge, medium trucks are $12 and heavy trucks are $16.
Ben Freiser, owner of Beginnings Restaurant in Atlantic Beach, says the higher cost will likely be placed on him with more expensive shipments. He is also concerned some customers might not cross the bridge as often.
"I'm a seasonal business owner so any increase I get this time of year, whether it's a dollar, 50 cents, it's a really hard hit," Freiser says.
The bridge is maintained and operated by the Nassau County Bridge Authority. Nobody from the agency would speak with News 12, but in a statement, the chairman wrote, "The bridge has not had a toll increase in 17 years, and in order to guarantee the safe operation of the bridge into the foreseeable future, in these inflationary times, it is necessary for the board to take this action."
The extra funds will pay for repairs including bulkhead replacement and a new toll plaza, which will have EZ Pass for the first time. That is expected by the middle of this year when the new toll plaza is operational.
According to the Nassau County Bridge Authority, there is no plan to raise tolls again until at least January 2028 and possibly later than that.
Annual pass discounts for residents of the Barrier Island and Nassau County residents will also continue.