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Sustainable Streets Take a Hit in Bloomberg Budget Plan [Updated]

Mayor Bloomberg released his budget proposal yesterday and, with a $4.93 billion deficit to deal with, there's not much good news. Scanning the many gap-closing measures proposed for the Department of Transportation [start on page E-57 of this PDF], there are at least two significant developments for livable streets and sustainable transport -- one bad and one good.

First the bad news: The budget calls for cutting $5 million from DOT's planning and sustainability program, which includes bus improvements, performance parking, the public plaza program, and congestion mitigation strategies, among other things. [Update: We originally reported that this cut would specifically affect the Division of Planning and Sustainability. DOT informs us that it would affect "any divisions involved in Complete Streets projects." The agency says it is still in the process assessing the impact of the potential cuts.]

Now the good news: The single biggest budget-closing mechanism under DOT's purview entails raising the price of parking in Manhattan. The budget calls for raising an additional $8 million by increasing passenger parking rates from $2 to $2.50 per hour at all multi-space meters south of 86th Street, between Second Avenue and Ninth Avenue. Another $4.1 million will come from increasing the price of commercial parking by the same amount from 14th and 60th Street, between Second and Tenth Avenues. It makes a lot more sense to charge for the scarce resource of street space than it would to cut another $12 million.

These numbers could very well change. The budget counts on getting more from the state than Governor Paterson is currently offering. Mayor Bloomberg released a separate "Contingency Plan" in case state funds don't materialize. At DOT, the contingency plan calls for another 537 positions to be eliminated.

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