Council approves congestion plan

Congestion pricing is one-step closer to becoming a reality in the city, as the City Council approved a home rule message resting the proposal’s fate entirely in the hands of Albany legislators.
The vote, which the City Council approved on Monday by a 30-20 margin, occurred after Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn spent much of the past few weeks lobbying hard behind the scenes to try to convince members to vote in favor of the plan.
“It is now completely clear that congestion pricing has the strong backing of the people of New York City,” Bloomberg said.
The plan, which would charge cars $8 and trucks $21 to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street during the weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in order to reduce congestion, improve air quality in the area and raise money for mass transit, has also undergone a number of last minute changes.
After fielding concerns from legislators last week, the lawmakers amended the bill to give exemptions to low income and handicapped drivers as well as ask the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to contribute $1 billion to the MTA in exchange for New Jersey drivers only paying regular toll fees.
In order for the congestion-pricing proposal to pass in Albany, both the Senate and Assembly must approve the plan as well as Governor David Paterson, who has already expressed his support of the plan.
Many insiders believe that the plan will likely meet its greatest opposition in the Assembly.

Read this week’s Queens Courier to see how your councilmember voted on the plan and what’s next in Albany.