Sunday, January 13, 2008

Last public congestion-pricing hearing

The Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission has decided to choose from the following list for making their recommendations to the New York City Council and New York State Assembly at the end of this month.
  • Charge cars $8 and trucks $21 to drive into Manhattan below 86th Street on weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.;
  • Change the entry boundary to 60th Street but add more roads to the area covered east and west;
  • Enact tolls at all the East and Harlem river crossings, inbound and outbound, 24 hours a day;
  • Ration car entry by license plate, banning vehicles from entering Manhattan below 86th Street one day per week, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., or
  • Raise prices for street and garage parking, reduce the number of parking placards used by city government employees and put a surcharge on taxi trips into the designated congestion zone.
While all of these proposals hold some merit, and meet the Federal requirement for a 6.3% reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and for a fee-based plan, they fall short of the commission's mandate to also address other related health and safety issues within the City of New York.

I, and many others still believe that these approaches will cause undue harm to residents of the outer boroughs while providing inadequate improvements to mass transit. Asthma rates in New York City (which means all of the boroughs, not just Manhattan), are the highest in the United States; the asthma rate in Hunt's Point is the highest in the world. The federal government requires merely a reduction of traffic in the central business district, but our children's health cries out for an overall reduction in traffic throughout the five boroughs.

None of these plans offer sufficient disincentives to discourage drivers from Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Connecticut to change their habits—indeed, the Mayor's plan would make Hudson River entry points free, now that the Port Authority has announced that it will raise their tolls to $8.00.

In short, outer-borough residents who must travel by car will be penalized, out-of-state residents will benefit from reduced traffic, while children (except for those lucky tykes within the congestion zone) will continue to suffer from respiratory diseases at unacceptable rates.

It is necessary for the City and State to adopt a workable plan by March 31, 2008 to be eligible for the federal funding offer of $354 million, but putting in place a more ambitious plan that benefits the residents of all boroughs is still possible.

The Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission will be holding one last public hearing before making its final recommendations to the New York City Council and New York State Assembly on January 31, 2008. The hearing is scheduled for 4PM, Wednesday, January 16, 2008, at Hunter College Auditorium—Hunter College, East 68th St. between Park & Lexington Avenues. You may register to speak until 1PM on the day of the hearing. You may register here:

And you may also email the commission at that site. I urge all concerned citizens to attend, or to write.


Anonymous said...

I was really touched by your points on the environment. The Queens Civic Congress CIVIC2030 plan includes a Clean Air Plan that does address the health -- and asthma -- impacts.
-Corey Bearak

Cameron Williams said...

Thank you, Corey.

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