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Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 14:05 GMT
Brooklyn Bridge 'for sale'
Brooklyn Bridge
150,000 commuters use Brooklyn Bridge every day

New York's Brooklyn Bridge may be up for sale in controversial new plans being considered by the city's new mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The world-famous bridge, along with three other New York bridges, may be sold in an attempt to plug a budget deficit of nearly $5bn.

Mr Bloomberg, who was elected mayor last year just weeks after the attacks on the World Trade Center, inherited the cash shortfall from the previous mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

He is now anxious to generate extra revenue to pay for his promised $40bn spending plan.

Difficult decisions

But selling the bridges is unlikely to be an easy option for Mr Bloomberg. His proposal two weeks ago to charge bridge tolls has already generated much opposition.

All four bridges - Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro - span the East River, and connect the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens to Manhattan.

Mr Bloomberg's toll plans - which could raise up to $800m a year - have already angered the many commuters who cross these bridges daily, as well as officials from Queens and Brooklyn.

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg has some tough spending decisions ahead
If he decides to go ahead with the sale of the four bridges, Mr Bloomberg is likely to face his toughest test yet as New York's mayor.

Brooklyn Bridge is one of New York's most famous landmarks. When it was created in 1883, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

As yet, it is unclear how much money the city would generate from the sale of the bridges, but Mr Bloomberg's spokesman Jordan Barowitz says the Metropolitan Transport Authority is a likely buyer.

The MTA already controls other toll-paid crossings to and from Manhattan.

Mr Bloomberg's need for cash is partly a result of reduced tax collections in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the city, exacerbated by the previous economic downturn.

The 11 September attacks not only killed nearly 3,000 people, but also led to 110,000 New York job losses.

See also:

01 Jan 02 | Americas
Profile: Michael Bloomberg
04 Jan 02 | England
New York inspired by Tamar Bridge
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