Bloomberg’s Traffic Plan Gets U.S. Boost

New York Times
August 14, 2007

By WILLIAM NEUMAN

Federal officials are expected to announce today that they will help finance Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan to ease traffic in Manhattan if it is ultimately approved by lawmakers, according to a government official.

An announcement will be made in Washington today by the federal transportation secretary, Mary E. Peters, who has said she will choose up to five cities to share $1.1 billion in federal money aimed at helping them fight gridlock by reducing traffic and promoting mass transit.

The official would not say how much money New York would receive. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because public discussion of the decision in advance of today’s announcement was not authorized. An aide to a member of New York’s congressional delegation said the Transportation Department notified his office of the decision yesterday.

Stu Loeser, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, declined to comment last night.

The mayor’s plan was first aired in April as part of a package of proposals meant to guide the city’s growth in an environmentally sensitive way over the next two decades. The plan proposes to charge drivers $8 and trucks $21 a day to enter or leave Manhattan below 86th Street on weekdays during the workday. Those who drive only within the congestion zone would pay $4 a day for cars, $5.50 for trucks.

The congestion charging plan is designed not only to cut traffic, but to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue that could be used to help pay for large-scale transportation projects.

The traffic plan drew opposition from politicians in the other four boroughs and the suburbs, which are home to many people who regularly drive into Manhattan.

In a last-minute compromise in July, days after what the city called a federal deadline for a plan, a special session of the State Legislature agreed to create a commission to study the mayor’s plan. Many of the 17 members would be chosen by Mr. Bloomberg, Gov. Eliot Spitzer and other officials who have supported the proposal.

The commission would make a recommendation by Jan. 31, and after that the plan would have to be approved by the City Council and the Legislature by March 31.

Under the rules set by the Legislature, however, the commission can proceed only if the federal government agrees to provide at least $200 million to help finance the proposal if it is ultimately approved

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