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Legislature Halts Congestion Pricing

The state legislature put up a stop sign on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, failing to pass the bill before the deadline to obtain up to $500 million in federal funds expired.
Bloomberg and his aides met with state senators well into the night up in Albany on Monday, July 16, attempting to iron out a last hour agreement; however, the bill never came up for a vote as it became more apparent that the plan may not have had the votes to pass the Senate.
The mayor’s 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.
“Although we continue to talk to the legislature and the governor, it’s sad to note that after three months of working with all parties to address their questions, the failure of the State Assembly to act in time on a deadline imposed by the federal government is a terrible setback for clean air and to our critical commitment to fight climate change,” Bloomberg said in a statement Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, the assembly did not reconvene a special session in Albany to discuss the plan, instead opting to meet in Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office in Manhattan.
“Nobody spoke in favor of the mayor’s plan,” Queens Assemblymember Rory Lancman told The Queens Courier. “We offered the mayor a plan, which would set up a commission that would look at congestion in New York City and all possible alternatives to deal with that issue, including but not limited to, congestion pricing.”
However, the commission would only go forward if Bloomberg continued to pursue it and if the city received a portion of the federal funding Bloomberg had tied to his congestion-pricing proposal, according to Lancman.
Some public officials and organizations who backed Bloomberg’s proposal said a commission to study congestion would not be enough to acquire the federal funding.
“The Federal guidelines are very clear: What’s required is a plan not a study of proposals,” read part of a statement from Straphangers Campaign, a group that has strongly supported Bloomberg’s plan.
However, federal authorities have not commented publicly on whether New York City would be one of the cities to receive federal funding, which would also be necessary for the study to take place.
“There’s no point in going forward without it [without federal money],” Lancman said. “There is no way the city or the state is shelling out [that kind of money].”
During a press briefing later that day, Bloomberg offered harsher words for the legislators that killed the plan saying they lacked guts, and specifically targeted Queens State Senator Malcolm Smith, who withdrew his support for the plan on Monday.
Smith reportedly became upset that Bloomberg had pledged money to republican campaigns to help them maintain the majority in the next election cycle.].”

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