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Friday’s Headlines: For Whom the Central Business District Tolls

12:05 AM EDT on August 27, 2021

These New Yorkers are sick of it all.

Calling all activists! The Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced yesterday that it will be holding 13 virtual public meetings in late September and early October in order to allow the public in a 28-county region in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey to have its say on the environmental impact of congestion pricing. That means livable-streets activists in the tri-state area will need to weigh in, in force, in order to counter the hysterical, pro-car NIMBYs who will try to clog up the Zoom feed.

There will be 10 geographically specific meetings designed to channel the commentary of various locales. Three other, statewide meetings will seek to address the concerns of underserved environmental justice communities in the three states, and anyone may register to attend any or all of those, the MTA says.

The dates are as follows, and you should mark them on your calendars. (amNY also covered the announcement.)

The 10 meetings are:

    • Thursday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to noon: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island
    • Thursday, Sept. 23, 6-8 p.m.: Manhattan Central Business District (60th Street and below)
    • Friday, Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to noon: New Jersey
    • Wednesday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m. to noon: Northern New York City Suburbs
    • Wednesday, Sept. 29, 6-8 p.m.: Long Island
    • Thursday, Sept. 30, 6-8 p.m.: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island
    • Friday, Oct. 1, 1-3 p.m.: Connecticut
    • Monday, Oct. 4, 6-8 p.m.: New Jersey
    • Tuesday, Oct. 5, 6-8 p.m.: Northern New York City Suburbs
    • Wednesday, Oct. 6, 6-8 p.m.: Manhattan Outside the Central Business District (61st Street and above)

The three environmental-justice meetings (one per state) are:

    • Thursday, Oct. 7, 6-8 p.m.: New York
    • Tuesday, Oct. 12, 6-8 p.m.: New Jersey
    • Wednesday, Oct. 13, 6-8 p.m.: Connecticut

The announcement comes a week after the MTA and the state and city departments of transportation let loose that we're gonna spend another 16 months assessing the environmental effect of a program that we've been discussing since the Bloomberg administration, but, hey, the agency heads involved tried to put a good face on it.

Janno Lieber, acting MTA chair & CEO, said that "it’s important that the public have an opportunity to learn about the proposal," while state Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez invited us to "reimagine travel into Manhattan’s Central Business District while at the same time reducing harmful carbon emissions, enhancing community health, and improving the reliability of the region’s public transportation."

That left the city's transportation commish, Hank Gutman, to state the obvious: “As we emerge from this pandemic, we owe it to our fellow New Yorkers to get this project done as quickly as possible." His ears must have been buzzing from all those who are put out by the need to do an environmental assessment of a pro-environment program.

Oh, and the MTA debuted its snazzy new website promoting the program, which supplies fun facts in the vein of this (much more granular) Streetsblog story, such as:

    • Congestion in the New York City region will cost businesses, commuters, and residents $100 billion over the next five years, according to a 2018 analysis by the Partnership for New York City, and
    • New Yorkers lose 133 hours on average each year due to traffic congestion, which costs them $1,859 in lost productivity and other costs.

In other news:

    • A vigil was held last night for 6-year-old Tamy Hiromi, killed in Dyker Heights earlier this week by an SUV driver as she walked in a  crosswalk with her mom. (News12)
    • In other MTA news, the agency is crowing about the transit-oriented development it is creating over its Metro-North Railroad station in Harrison. That's nice, but it built (and yesterday opened) an enormous, 598-space parking lot to go along with it. The MTA says that 475 of the spaces will go to MNR riders, encouraging transit use (which is good). But that still leaves 123 parking spaces for the 83 apartments that will wrap around the garage. Transit oriented? If it were really visionary, the agency would provide NO car parking for the residents and instead make car-share spaces available. (LoHud)
    • RIP Bklyner: The delightfully eclectic local website will cease publication Sept. 10.
    • Gov. Cuomo's enforcer won't resign from the MTA board, creating a test for Gov. Hochul. (NYPost)
    • Free Wheelin, the learn-how-to-fix-a-bike program for Fort Greene/Clinton Hill teens that Streetsblog wrote up recently, gets ink from Brooklyn Reader.
    • ICYMI: The City examined the "hostile" design of the new Penn Station and other transit spaces.

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