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Next stop, Albany, for congest drive

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Next stop, Albany, for congest drive

By ADAM LISBERG & PETE DONOHUE

DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

April 2nd 2008, 4:00 AM

 

[float=right]top_congestion.jpg[/float]The looming prospect of an $8 fee to drive into the heart of Manhattan steamed drivers Tuesday but brought hope to straphangers - while Albany lawmakers delayed making a decision.

 

"I hate it. It sucks. It's an extra $8 a day - that's $2,000 a year!" said Bill Jackson, 44, an ironworker who drives to Manhattan from his home in Warwick, Orange County. "It won't ease traffic. The rich are going to do it. They don't care."

 

There was a similar reaction from business owners who face a $21 fee to bring trucks into Manhattan; commuters who say mass transit doesn't work for them, and even from New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, who threatened to sue.

 

People who get to work by subway, ferry and even bicycle said an $8 fee would force car drivers to pay their fair share for clogging streets and polluting the air - with the money devoted to making bus and subway rides better.

 

"Only crazy people drive from Staten Island to Manhattan on a weekday," said Roberto Sanchez, 38, who takes mass transit from his Staten Island home to the Manhattan restaurant where he works. "Just take the ferry already."

 

The City Council approved the plan Monday night by a 30-to-20 vote after heavy lobbying from Mayor Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who say congestion pricing will keep the city from choking on traffic and pollution.

 

The $8 fee would apply from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays on every street in Manhattan below 60th St., including the FDR Drive, the West Side Highway and the four free bridges over the East River.

 

Love it or hate it, the plan rests in the Legislature, which faces a Monday deadline to approve it or risk losing $354 million in federal money.

 

Senate approval could come within days, but Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) has yet to show his cards - though some expect him to vote for it.

 

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), a leading opponent, said Democrats in areas affected by the plan would vote 2 to 1 against it - but Assembly GOP leader Jim Tedisco (R-Schenectady) said he expects the measure will pass.

 

"I think we will get a favorable vote," Bloomberg said. "I don't see how it can possibly not go through. I'm always optimistic."

 

One troublesome part of the plan would demand a $1 billion contribution from the Port Authority, or else drivers at its Hudson River crossings would be forced to pay up to $3 extra.

 

Bloomberg said he believed the plan was legal, but it drew Corzine's ire.

 

"I will only support a congestion-pricing plan that is fair to New Jersey commuters, and this plan is not," he said. "Unless this plan treats all drivers fairly, I am prepared to pursue legal action to protect New Jersey commuters from this outrageous action."

 

Plenty of New York drivers, too, were grim at the thought of the $8 fee.

 

"I'm seriously thinking of dropping my Manhattan customers and building up my Brooklyn customers," said Jim Markson, 60, of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, an exterminator who hauls his chemicals in his black Chevy SUV.

 

"I think it's outrageous. It's the straw that broke this camel's back."

 

God's Love We Deliver, which brings meals to 1,600 people a day, said the fee could cost it up to $80,000 a year - imperiling its operations.

 

Advocates, though, expect a 10% reduction in the 800,000 cars and trucks that enter the zone below 60th St. each weekday, allowing trucks to make more deliveries faster. They also say the vast majority of New Yorkers who don't drive into Manhattan each day will get better travel options.

 

"To the person coming over the Brooklyn Bridge who doesn't want to pay $8, I would say, talk to the other 96% of the people," said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. "The more that people really understand the details of the program, the more they like it."

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Albany must be thinking real hard about this now. Doesn't look so sure.

 

But ya, I agree with NJ Gov. Corzine, its gonna be unfair for NJ drivers the way it is now. But something I question, is how tolls would be set up for coming coming from NJ? Is NY gonna make people coming from NJ on the Hudson river crossings pay more at the tolls before entering NY or once in NY? Either way, its gonna be an extremely hellish situation.

 

I support congestion pricing, but if its unfair to NJ drivers, then no, can't have it.

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They got no votes from Albany! GRRRRRRR!!!! :mad:

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I think NJ drivers should be charged a quarter of the proposed fee, or none at all. Most people from NJ all ready take the train, hence the need for the ARC/THE project. Would be a bit unfair. I think the idea would cripple commerce, as how would one get to manhattan outside of train from the airport at newark! Plus, what of cargo from newark headed to manhattan? Aside from having a EWR-NYC freight line... which might make sense in 25-30 years, isn't practical now, and doesn't' exist. It'll be a mess, that's for sure. I think till the economy improves enough for NJ traffic to absorb this hit, it should be held off, or factored into anything put into law.

 

- Andy

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