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City Council likely to approve congestion pricing plan: Avella – QNS.com

City Council likely to approve congestion pricing plan: Avella

By Stephen Stirling

According to Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), the New York City Council's State and Federal Legislation Committee will vote on a home rule request to the state Legislature supporting a plan for congestion pricing, which will be immediately followed by a vote by the full council on the same home rule request.

Avella, who staunchly opposes the plan, said the call to vote is likely a positive sign for supporters of the plan, which would charge drivers $8 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street during business hours.

“The very fact that they scheduled a vote means they probably have the votes to pass it,” Avella said. “I don't think they would have done it otherwise, which is disappointing.”

Both Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who introduced the plan last April, have been lobbying hard to get the legislation passed before April 7, which would keep the city eligible to receive $354 million in federal funding they say would be earmarked for short-term transit improvements.

If the plan is approved, it may be due in part to several last-minute changes introduced to the legislation by Gov. David Paterson last week, including toll exemptions for low-income and handicapped drivers – both major concerns expressed in recent hearings by several Council members.

If approved by the City Council, the legislation would still need to be passed by the state Senate and Assembly. Congestion pricing supporters say the largest hurdle will be the Assembly, many members of which have been outspoken about their vehement opposition to the plan.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at Sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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