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Congestion Pricing

Pricing is Alive. JFK Rail Link and SMART Fund May be Dead.

12:49 PM EDT on May 21, 2007

Annie Karni reports in today's New York Sun that the outlines of a congestion pricing bill may be hammered out in Albany before Memorial Day, though not exactly as Mayor Bloomberg initially proposed.

Karni writes that MTA executive director Lee Sander would prefer to see the $3.75 billion earmarked for a direct rail link from Lower Manhattan to JFK Airport allocated to the Second Avenue subway instead.

Critics of the JFK Rail Link, which have included the Regional PlanAssociation, say the project would benefit fewer riders than a newsubway line. Because it would cut down on the commute between LongIsland's North Shore and Lower Manhattan, some say it would mostlybenefit downtown developers by narrowing the large gap between Midtownand Downtown rents.

Sander also doesn't like PlaNYC's proposal to direct congestion pricing revenue to a new transit funding authority known as the SMART fund.

Mr. Sander on Friday expressed grave misgivings about the creationof a new funding authority at an oversight hearing run by AssemblymanRichard Brodsky, a Democrat of Westchester.

State Senate leader Joe Bruno is reported to be enthusiastic about Mayor Bloomberg's plans.

"He called the mayor's presentation last week to Senate Republicans 'outstanding,'" and sources say he is likely to support the mayor's plan.

And Karni's sources speculate that State Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver may be willing to swap his beloved one-seat ride to JFK for the completion of the Second Avenue subway.

"The city needs a full length Second Avenue Subway, as opposed to themoney being spread out in smaller pieces of big projects," the chiefattorney for the Straphangers Campaign, Gene Russianoff, said. "Theproblem over the last 10 years has been that if you're for all of theprojects, you're really for none of them. That's why they've inchedalong."

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