The Congestion Pricing Timeline

Yesterday, New York State’s Four Men in a Room agreed to a process that may or may not result in congestion pricing for New York City. Even by Albany standards, Bloomberg, Spitzer, Silver and Bruno’s deal is incredibly complex. The deal, which is supposed to be formalized by a vote in the state legislature shortly, lays out very specific deadlines that must be achieved before New York City is granted the power to collect congestion charges. The first step in even beginning to understand the implications of yesterday’s deal is to understand the timeline that it set forth.

Here, as best we can tell, is the congestion pricing timeline:

In the next two weeks: The state legislature votes on the "deal" and it is signed by the governor. This must happen soon since the commission is slated to start work.

By August 1, 2007: A 17-member Commission appointed by the Governor, Mayor, State Senate, Assembly and City Council are presented with the mayor’s plan. They may hold hearings or consider a wide variety of options before producing an "Implementation Plan." The Implementation Plan doesn’t necessarily have to include congestion pricing but must come up with some way to reduce average vehicle miles traveled by 6.3%, as promised to the US Dept. of Transportation.

August 8, 2007: US DOT announces the recipients of $1.2 billion in federal grants. If New York does not receive at least $200 million, the deal is off.

By October 1, 2007: The US DOT must have committed at least $200 million to the Implementation Plan. Likewise, the MTA must explain to the Commission the impacts of the Implementation Plan on its budget and operations by this date.

By December 31, 2007: The City or US DOT have to have committed at least $250 million or the deal is off. (The US DOT is being asked to give New York the money before the commission produces it’s implementation plan.)

By January 31, 2008: The Commission must votes on an Implementation Plan. The Implementation Plan is supposed to be the consensus document underlying all legislation. As noted above, the Plan must reduce traffic as much as the mayor’s plan.

By March 28, 2008: The City Council must vote to approve the "Implementation Plan," send a home rule message to the state legislature. A home rule message is a request from a city or town council to the state legislature asking them to vote on legislation affecting only that town or city.

By March 31, 2008: The MTA must have submitted a capital program for the period covering July 1, 2008 through December 31, 2013, an 18-month acceleration of the typical MTA capital program process. Likewise, the New York State Assembly and Senate must vote on the Implementation Plan by March 31, 2008.

On June 30, 2012: The legislation will expire.

One immediate question that comes to mind: What would a federal law suit demanding a time-consuming environmental impact study do to the timeline and the "deal?"

  • Larry Littlefield

    (What would a federal law suit demanding a time-consuming environmental impact study do to the timeline and the “deal?”)

    As at Atlantic Yards, the question will not be who is right or who is wrong, but whether a judge grants an injunction.

    With an injunction, the project is killed by delay even if the suit is eventually dismissed, as the plaintiffs can work to drag it out as long as possible. Without one, an EIS can be drawn up just in case or, presented with a fait accompli after a long lawsuit, a judge can be convinced that REMOVING congestion pricing would have the environment.

    In any event, such a suit and result might finally convince the rest of the environmentalists that the environmental review process is a politicized dishonest mess that hurts, among other things, the environment. Lots of them already know.

  • If there is a suit, the state could conceivably pass new legislation that changes the timeline to accommodate the delays.

    Remember that this legislation was not inscribed on stone tablets and given to us by Moses – not even by Robert Moses.

  • The NEPA requirement of EIS for major projects may be costly and burdenspome, but better than the alternative of no EIS, and hence zero oversight of many large federally funded projects.

    I don’t think one will be necessary here; I can’t see any judge granting an injunction, or the government issuing anything other than a FONSI, thus, no EIS.

    Take a look at the history of attempts to get the first subways built . . . if this timeline is met, this will mhave been breathtakingly fast by historical standards.

    Remember that a year ago, if you told people we’d be at this point today, you’d have been laughed at.

    Reach out to reporters. Harangue your reps. Keep this plan alive.

  • Happ

    Why wouldn’t an EIS be required under NEPA or SEQRA for a project that would have such widescale traffic impacts? If pricing doesn’t trigger an EIS what should?

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