LaHood: NYC’s Congestion Pricing Money Still There for the Taking

Speaking at an event in Midtown yesterday morning, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood let it be known that New York City can still claim hundreds of millions of dollars in federal transit funding -- if local lawmakers implement congestion pricing. NY1 reports:

The city was slated to receive about $350 million in federal transportation funds to implement the plan, but it was was stalled by State Assembly Democrats in Albany.

LaHood said the money is still there if lawmakers change their minds.

"The money that was going to be provided for that particular project is still at the Department of Transportation," said LaHood. "If New York got its act together around that kind of opportunity, I think we would look at it."

Most of that $354 million would have gone toward transit enhancements targeted for areas underserved by subways. Citing, in large part, their distrust of the MTA to spend congestion pricing revenue wisely, state legislators turned down the offer from George W. Bush's DOT and killed the proposal last April.

Here we are a year later, and Albany just passed a toll-free MTA financing package that leaves the agency's capital plan largely unfunded. Congestion pricing would go a long way toward filling that gap, and self-styled watchdogs Malcolm Smith and Richard Brodsky say the new bill will make the MTA "transparent and accountable" to their liking. So if Barack Obama's DOT comes back with that $354 million offer, would NYC's state legislators still walk away from all those transit improvements for their constituents?