Spitzer Backs Congestion Pricing

Is Mayor Bloomberg actually going to pull this off? Governor Eliot Spitzer came out in favor of congestion pricing this morning. Elizabeth Benjamin at the Daily News reports:

Standing with Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Gov.
Eliot Spitzer this morning said he is "in favor of embracing a congestion pricing model"
at a press conference where U.S.
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced New York is one of nine semi-finalist cities competing for $1.1 billion worth of federal funding to help implement traffic-curbing plans.

Spitzer called congestion pricing "a necessary investment for New York City" and said the state will work with the city to fine-tune its application for federal funds.

"This is not really a question of whether, it's a question of when and a question of doing it properly," said the governor, who also stressed that issues of implementation and the effect congestion pricing would have on the overall transportation system still remain to be worked out.

Peters, who said she personally experienced the city's traffic problem when she hit a jam on the FDR on her way to the governor's Manhattan office, said the federal government aims to pick five finalist cities by early August and will be seeking assurances from local officials that their respective plans can be implemented quickly.

The city could receive some $400 million, although Spitzer said they're aiming for $500 million. The cash would be used to implement a pilot plan, Bloomberg said, adding: "People want specificity; But until we try it, we're not going to exactly know. We are smart enough and flexible enough to try things and constantly improve them."

This is a one-shot deal - if the deadlines aren't met, the funding won't be available later, said Peters. She called Bloomberg's plan "bold, brave and long overdue," adding: "This plan will keep the city that never sleeps from becoming the city that never moves."

The Legislature needs to sign off on congestion pricing. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno has signaled his support. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been more reticent. Bloomberg is scheduled to testify at an Assembly hearing on the topic tomorrow in Manhattan.

Peters was supposed to travel to Albany this afternoon to meet with both Bruno and Silver, but called off her trip due to what was billed as a last-minute scheduling conflict.