Congestion Panel to Recommend Abbreviated Pricing Plan

Today's the day.

The Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission is expected to sign off on a condensed version of the Bloomberg administration's original pricing proposal today, one with a northern boundary of 60th Street (rather than 86th) and no charges for trips that begin within Manhattan's Central Business District. Higher parking rates and a taxi surcharge could also be included, but other details -- such as New Jersey drivers avoiding congestion fees through toll credits -- are likely to be left unresolved.

TCMC Chairman Marc Shaw met privately yesterday with Assembly Democrats, who reportedly expressed their opinion of the plan no uncertain terms.

Here are some choice bits from today's papers.

From the Times

"I would say that the idea of congestion pricing and the commission's proposals got hammered, and it was in a comprehensive way," said Rory I. Lancman, a Queens assemblyman who attended the meeting. "Every aspect of the proposals were hashed out, were analyzed and were found to be wanting."

Mr. Shaw has been making the rounds in Albany as he tries to drum up support for a traffic-busting plan in advance of the commission's vote.

"Marc stood there for three hours and took his beating like a man," Mr. Lancman said.

From the Sun

"I do not believe it will become the law of the state," Mr. Brodsky, who represents Westchester County, said during a telephone interview yesterday. "They've taken a bad plan and made it worse."

The mayor's office declined to comment, but during his weekly radio show last week, Mr. Bloomberg said that a lower boundary "would bring in less money and would leave us with another traffic problem." 

From the Post

"Were we not to get congestion pricing, it would have a dramatic effect on our ability to expand and modernize our system," MTA Executive Director Elliot Sander said yesterday. 

"It makes a lot more sense to put the [border] where the business district really ends," said Councilman John Liu (D-Queens), chairman of the City Council's Transportation Committee.

The administration of the plan will be less expensive "and we won't have thousands of cameras peering at us every single place," Liu added.

The final version also will probably not include tolls on now-free East and Harlem River bridges, sources said.

"Hopefully, this will finally put to bed the wild and crazy idea of bridge tolls," Liu said.

From the News:

"I wouldn't say it's dead. I would say it has major obstacles," said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), a congestion pricing supporter.

Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) told the Daily News Wednesday the idea still has life - in part because the MTA is counting on $500 million a year in congestion pricing funds to pay for its $25 billion-plus capital spending plan.

"They can be dealt with, is what I'm saying," Silver said.