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Friday’s Headlines: We’re Congested (Again) Edition

12:03 AM EDT on August 26, 2022

Thursday night kicked off another round of public forums on congestion pricing. Hundreds of people signed up to speak, and at three minutes apiece the ordeal would have taken more than 18 hours. But traffic congestion currently costs New Yorkers tens of thousands of YEARS, so what’s a few hours amongst friends? 

Mercifully, many people who signed up did not show up, and though this hearing was the first to happen after the MTA released its environmental assessment, the questions and comments tended to be short on specifics and long on impassioned arguments for or against congestion pricing itself.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, appearing on video from the seat of an automobile, called the plan part of a “war on cars approach,” while Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso praised congestion pricing, and called for “no exemptions or as few exemptions as possible.” (Several speakers against congestion pricing wondered aloud if disabled drivers would be exempt: they are, it’s in the statute.)

A number of car-driving Manhattan residents also voiced their opposition, including Colette Vogell, whose testimony gradually morphed into a Lee Zeldin campaign endorsement (literally). “If you want to stop the congestion in Manhattan, get rid of all the restaurant shanties, all of the stupid bike docking systems,” she added. The representatives from the MTA and the DOT blinked, then moved on.

Pedro Rodriguez of Forest Hills said he was supporting the plan in part because of the 1,700 New Yorkers who die premature deaths annually because of air pollution. “We needed congestion pricing three years ago, and we need it now more than ever.”

Barak Friedman cited the poor air quality and “the slowest buses in the country” as the main reasons to push for the plan. “Any exemption that applies to car drivers must apply to transit riders.”

Of the 20 speakers, 11 were haters, and 9 were supporters. Ultimately, congestion pricing is the law, and it's happening, people. The Post previewed the hearings, as did amNY. Nicole Gelinas, in a Post op-ed, argued that congestion pricing won't cut traffic long term. You can see a list of more public forums here

And now, the headlines:

    • Amazon told the city it will stop selling illegal license-plate covers, other "camera blockers," in New York. Now to get the thousands out there off the street... (NYDN), BKEagle,
    • The Placard Corruption Twitter account had a good hot take on Mayor Adams's Amazon deal: (Via Twitter)
    • Can technology help manage the curb? Friend of Streetsblog John Surico ponders the question in the Times, with a nifty quote from Open Plans Policy Director Sara Lind.
    • The speeding drivers of a ghost car killed another motorist in The Bronx, then fled. (NYDN, ABC7)
    • The New York Times explained the subway's lack of air conditioning.
    • Are we having problems, NJTransit? (Via Twitter)
    • Like Streetsblog, Bloomberg wrote up the traffic-crisis documentary.
    • Hey, Parks Department, get your act together on Washington Square! (Village Sun)
    • The City Planning Commission voted to rezone Bruckner Boulevard in The Bronx, over the objections of Council Member Marjorie Velazquez. (City Limits)
    • The return of the NYC Ferry to Greeenpoint was delayed, exercising local Council Member Lincoln Restler. (amNY)
    • Tompkins Square Park's odious and odoriferous crappers bring new meaning to the phrase "in the toilet." (Hell Gate)
    • Marco Conner DiAquoi, most recently the interim executive director at TransAlt, is the new ED at TakeRoot Justice, which "provides legal, participatory research and policy support to strengthen the work of grassroots and community-based groups." (Via Twitter)
    • A cop is suing to stop the city's vaccine mandate for municipal workers. (Politico)
    • Flatbush news! Melrose Parkside Historic District will be considered for landmarking. (BK Paper)
    • Check out these French noise sensors that issue tickets to obscenely loud motorcycles.

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