Congestion $ing Homestretch

January 17, 2008 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

At the end of this month, the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Committee will present its recommendations to Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council, and the State legislature. On January 10, a town hall-type meeting was held at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. The meeting was sponsored by Assemblymember Michael Gianaris (36th district), the United Community Civic Association, and the Queens Gazette; coverage of the event by the Gazette can be found by clicking here, but I want to point out a few things about this meeting and the discussion about congestion pricing itself.

Here’s Gianaris on the subject:

It’s really a way to tax people who don’t live in Manhattan. It’s not only who’s paying but who’s not paying-the wealthiest of the wealthy. I am not going to support a plan to make Manhattan a rich person’s paradise….There are people who do not have easy access to mass transit. It’s a long way to go before this [congestion pricing] becomes a reality. I am going to fight this.

That is an expedient stance to take, given that a recent survey of 1,162 registered voters found that:

  • 58% of New Yorkers oppose congestion pricing; 37% are in favor; 5% undecided.
  • 69% oppose adding bridge tolls to the East River crossings; 25% are in favor; 6% undecided.

But where does flat-out opposition to all plans and ideas leave New Yorkers (all of them, and not just the wealthy) in terms of getting a handle on the problems of pollution and the future viability of New York as its population increases? That same survey also found that:

  • 60% would support congestion pricing if money from the plan is used to improve mass transit in and around the city.
  • 91% of New York City voters say traffic congestion is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem in the city.

At what point does the debate shift from left-and-right negating to a demonstration of leadership that has as its primary goal improving a downwardly spiraling situation? The more I read and hear on this, the more I see that this is as much a crisis in leadership as it is an environmental disaster in the making. New Yorkers, regardless of where they live, need to cry out for better leadership at this moment in time, instead of being played by the pols who want to sound borough-tough and worthy of whatever higher office they see on their horizon.

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Entry filed under: community, congestion pricing, Forest Hills.

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