If Albany Lawmakers Don’t Go Back to Work, NYC Loses
Sounding frustrated, Mayor Bloomberg said in his radio address this weekend that it would be "absolutely ridiculous" for state lawmakers to leave hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to another city by rejecting New York City’s congestion pricing plan.
Opponents of Mayor Bloomberg’s plan, like State Assembly Member Denny Farrell, a Democrat from Northern Manhattan, have suggested that federal funding doesn’t actually hinge on approval of congestion pricing by the state legislature.
Farrell and friends are wrong.
The federal Transportation Research Board is holding its summer meeting in Chicago right now, with members of the nine finalist cities vying for federal funds in attendance. Patrick Decorla-Souza is co-chair of TRB’s congestion pricing committee. Roger Herz, a TRB member here in New York City sat in on a meeting of the pricing committee, Sunday afternoon. Herz reports:
Decorla-Souza reiterated that for New York City to win federal funding for its congestion pricing pilot project, state approval is essential. The U.S. DOT has given the city a deadline of July 16 to submit a legislatively
approved plan. The federal DOT has receved 25 applications
for federal grants for congestion pricing pilot projects. Nine semifinalists, including New York City, were invited to make presentations directly to Transportation Secretary Mary Peters. A maximum of five finalists will be chosen to divide up one billion dollars in grants. New York City’s application is considered likely for federal approval since it is so different than other proposals, most of which involve using the federal funds to build new toll roads and HOV lanes rather than de-congesting existing city streets. The federal DOT plans to announce the five finalists by August 8 and there is very little flexibility on these deadlines.
In other words: If New York State Assembly Members do not return to work and find a way to approve the Mayor’s congestion pricing
plan within the next week or so, hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants — funding that
would be used for immediate mass transit improvements throughout the
five boroughs — will go to other cities.