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Congestion pricing plan vote not likely

With the end of the scheduled state legislature session slated for Thursday, June 21, Assembly sources said it is very unlikely that Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal would be voted on before session’s end.
“It’s not going to be voted on barring some bolt of lightning from the sky either today or tomorrow,” Queens Assemblymember Rory Lancman told The Queens Courier.
Even if the Assembly did not vote on the proposal by the end of Thursday, Lancman did not discount a special summer legislature session to discuss this issue, particularly if Bloomberg continues to push congestion pricing to acquire federal funds that could become available to implement the congestion pricing pilot program.
Bloomberg’s plan would charge cars $8 and trucks $21 to enter Manhattan south of 86th Street during the week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., in order to decrease traffic in the central business district as well as curtail environmental problems.
Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters endorsed the mayor’s plan explaining that New York is one of nine cities eligible to receive up to $500 million in funding, which would go towards implementing the plan.
Peters originally said that the government would likely choose the cities who receive the grants by August, but now Bloomberg is pushing for the plan to be approved by mid-July.
While Governor Eliot Spitzer and State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno have announced support for the plan, many Queens Assemblymembers have told The Queens Courier that they have serious questions about the plan and would not vote to approve it as currently constituted.
“I am positive we will not vote on it in the next few days,” Assemblymember Mark Weprin said. “I’m still opposed to it; I haven’t been convinced yet.”
Recently the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute released results from a survey saying that voters statewide oppose Bloomberg’s congestion pricing proposal 52 -31 percent, while city residents surveyed oppose it even further at 57-35 percent.
“Governor Spitzer and Senator Bruno like Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion-pricing idea, but voters don’t, particularly voters in the city where it would be used,” said Maurice Carroll, Director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
However, according to numbers in that same poll, a majority of voters said they would support the mayor’s plan if it prohibited transit fare increases.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Comptroller William Thompson Jr., both potential mayoral candidates for 2009, also backed the congestion pricing idea, but said they wanted to see changes made to the plan.
Thompson talked about decreasing the fee for city residents to $5 while increasing it to $10 for non-city residents and accelerating improvements on mass transportation projects before implementing the plan.

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