Drivers To Be Charged $8 To Enter Midtown

Andrew Kirtzman
Saturday April 21, 2007 

NEW YORK A controversial new plan is about to be implemented to improve the quality of life in New York City.

This weekend Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to introduce an $8 congestion fee for drivers who enter Manhattan below 86th Street.

On the city's traffic-clogged arteries Friday, Bloomberg was not a popular guy.

"Next thing he's gonna charge us to cross the street," one driver said.

Complaints like those echoed among drivers who'd heard that the mayor is about to propose tolls for vehicles entering Midtown Manhattan.

A mayoral panel has proposed charging motorists to enter Manhattan below 86th Street from 6 am to 6 p.m.

That charge would:

-- Include any bridge or tunnel tolls people already pay

-- Exempt drivers who bypass the business district on their way to another part of the city.

-- Exempt taxi drivers, and possibly give discounts for people who live and work in the zone.

Advocates said it's crucial for a city that's expected to add another million people in the next 20 years.

"Things here are gonna grind to a halt if something is not done to relieve the congestion on New York City's streets," said Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives.

Opposition has already formed in the boroughs outside of Manhattan, where some view Bloomberg as a Manhattan elitist.

Former Queens Councilman Walter McCaffrey represents a group opposed to the idea.

"Those individuals who are not that well to do are going to find they're being hit with a $5,000 a year tax," McCaffrey said.

This could set off a battle royale from here to Albany, where the legislature would have to approve the plan. The mayor will unveil details of it on Sunday when he delivers a speech on the future of New York City.

In that speech, the mayor is expected to outline an ambitious agenda for his final 32 months in office. He'll propose a new $7.5 billion freight tunnel under the Hudson River, and call for the construction of 250,000 new homes.



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