Congestion Deadline Delayed
March 19th, 2008
So the solid, drop-dead congestion pricing deadline has changed — again.
What was supposed to be a do or die date of March 31 is actually the first week in April, according to the federal Department of Transportation. The department has reportedly determined that the legislature would have to approve a plan 90 days after the start of the legislative session, which is April 7.
(This is the second time the Bloomberg administration has switched the date. The first was before the state legislature approved the formation of a commission to study the proposal last year.)
City officials failed to catch that directive from the department – even including the previous date in legislation forming the congestion pricing commission – and have been hammering the March deadline into advocates, the media and legislators upstate.
Who knows whether a week will buy Bloomberg enough time to persuade a obviously-distracted state legislature and a deeply divided City Council.
Even so, they are on the offensive.
Bloomberg appeared with the federal Transportation Secretary Mary Peters at a Crain’s Breakfast Forum this morning, delivering a speech pushing for the plan.
The mayor and the secretary then set out to Staten Island, plugging a street signal pilot program that cuts travel times on busy corridors by timing green lights for buses. The program could be implemented citywide — that is, if congestion pricing is approved and the city gets $354.5 million from the feds.
In response to recent complaints that out-of-state drivers benefit from congestion pricing, Bloomberg said the following, according to a prepared text: “Well, the fact is that no one drives in to Manhattan from New Jersey for free. The Port Authority charges a toll at all its bridges and tunnels. They recently raised it to $8 during peak periods, in anticipation of congestion pricing. So in a very real sense, thereís already a congestion pricing fee for New Jersey drivers. And although itís only been in effect a few weeks, initial estimates suggest that it is reducing Manhattan-bound traffic during peak hours.”
Elsewhere, the City Council has scheduled congestion pricing oversight hearings for Monday (More to come on that shortly).
We can expect to see much more from the pro-congestion pricing lobby and the anti-pricing agenda within the next two weeks. You can also stay tuned for coverage here next week.By Courtney Gross on March 19, 2008, 2:40 pm
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