Congestion proposal crawls to a vote

Days after he all but admitted his congestion pricing proposal was dead, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and state leaders announced an agreement to form a commission to study congestion in Manhattan, including, but not limited to Bloomberg’s congestion pricing.
“This agreement makes clear that delay was unacceptable and the need to protect our environment and fight congestion simply could not wait,” Bloomberg said. “We will begin immediately to prepare for the installation of needed equipment to make our traffic plan a reality.”
Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan would charge car drivers $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 reduce traffic congestion in Manhattan’s central business district, but this proposal was greeted with concern in both legislative houses.
After intense negotiations last week, representatives from the State Senate and Assembly reached a compromise, and the lawmakers are likely to return to Albany on Thursday, July 26, in order to vote on the new legislation, which calls for the implementation of the commission made up of representatives from city and state offices.
It is still unclear whether New York City will qualify for up to $530 million in federal funds, which is imperative for the commission to begin its work.
“My understanding is that they are going to make a decision on August 8, and we need to go up to Albany [to vote] so there is some more reality to the situation,” said Assemblymember Rory Lancman, who has been an opponent to Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan.
However, Bloomberg aides have already begun moving ahead with the traffic plan, and he remained confident that his plan would come to fruition.
“I am certain that through our work with the commission, our traffic plan will be implemented expeditiously,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
Meanwhile, groups opposed to Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, have urged the commission to consider other alternatives to help reduce congestion.
“We trust its members will seek to address the problems of traffic congestion while at the same time heeding the economic needs of working class individuals and seniors who must travel by car and truck into Manhattan,” said former City Councilmember Walter McCaffrey on behalf of the group Keep NYC Congestion Free. “We also trust that the commission will take under consideration all mitigation options.”

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