While everyone else was busy trying to find someone to blame in the congestion pricing gridlock, it turns out that lawmakers have been actually trying to work out a plan. Of course, this may come too late for the city to qualify for federal funding, but progress is progress. The NY Sun reports that Albany Democrats "were close to agreeing to a deal in which they would authorize the city to begin implementing the infrastructure of the program, such as buying and installing cameras."
The deal would also create the congestion pricing commission that Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver had wanted - the commission would study congestion in the city. The Daily News reports that "Silver wanted assurances the MTA would submit a capital plan in early 2008 on how congestion pricing revenue would be used for mass transit" as well.
Politicians are hopeful that the city can still qualify for federal funding; Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said the U.S. Department of Transportation sort of keeping the door open ... because they think the plan that the mayor submitted was the best plan, and this is the biggest community in the whole country."
And how is congestion pricing possibly making its way through Albany? Because Governor Spitzer is also negotiating with lawmakers about raises for legislators. Ah, politics.
Update: Monty Hall time, a deal was made between Governor Spitzer, Assembly Leader Silver, Senate Majority Leader Bruno and Mayor Bloomberg. Streetsblog has the details, here's some of them:
The 17 member congestion pricing commission is made up as follows:
3 appointees -- Mayor
3 appointees -- Governor
3 appointees -- City Council
3 appointees -- State Senate majority leader
3 appointees -- State Assembly speaker
1 appointees -- Senate minority leader
1 appointees -- Assembly minority leader
SUMMARYOF CONGESTION PRICING LEGISLATION
· NYC is authorized to present and implement a detailed congestion pricing plan to address traffic congestion within a zone of severe traffic congestion in Manhattan. Such plan shall include (a) the geographic area to be covered; (b) the proposed dollar amount of any congestion pricing fee; (c) the technology to be used to implement such pricing plan; and (d) the number and scope of exemptions granted from such fee requirements. The Mayor shall submit the traffic mitigation plan by August 1, 2007.
· NYC may not impose or collect any fee for traveling into or within designated zone unless the implementation plan has been approved by the State Legislature by March 31, 2008 and signed into law by the Governor, pursuant to a request from the Mayor that the State Legislature consider such plan where such request has been approved by the City Council.
· A NYC Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission shall undertake a review and study of the issues related to the implementation of the plan submitted by NYC. It may also review and study other plans to reduce traffic congestion and other related health and safety issues. The Commission shall have 17 members comprised of appointees by State and City officials.
Senate Majority Leader Bruno's office issued a press release touting the agreements made, which included "additional property tax relief for seniors, secure desperately needed capital investments to help the State’s economy -- particularly Upstate -- and to provide New York City with the ability to move forward with Mayor Bloomberg’s ambitious plan to relieve traffic congestion." MTA CEO Elliot Sander gave a statement saying, "The MTA is thrilled that an agreement has been reached to advance congestion pricing, which is critical to funding the long-term needs of the transportation system."
And here's part of Mayor Bloomberg's statement,
"This agreement to move forward with congestion pricing marks a critical milestone in our efforts to make PlaNYC a reality, and to provide a better quality of life for us and for future generations of New Yorkers. By moving forward in our effort to clean our air and fight congestion, we will help our economy, improve public health and make critical improvements to our public transportation system...This agreement is a victory for the broad coalition of environmental and environmental justice groups, transit and public health advocates, organized labor and civic leaders who worked tirelessly for years to make real and important progress for our environment and our mass transit system. I also want to congratulate the leaders of both houses of the Legislature and the Governor for their support for this key element of PlaNYC and their commitment to moving it forward. We will continue to work together to access the federal funds that are available. Certainly there will be discussion of the details of various components of our plan, but together we have made a commitment to a greener, healthier and more livable New York."