2007_08_rushhour4.jpgLast month, much-to-do between Mayor Bloomberg and the state powers-that-be resulted in a kind of agreement that congestion pricing in NYC should be considered and studied (after months of Mayor Bloomberg campaigning for it). And today, the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to announce its support of NYC's plan.

The USDOT could give NYC as much as $350 million (though not the half billion number the Mayor and US DOT Secretary Mary Peters had previously suggested). Still, as long as there's a minimum of $200 million, the funding will satisfy the state Legislature's requirements for congestion pricing.

The money does come with strings: The USDOT wants some sort of fee to be charged to drivers during peak hours, which is something quite a few politicians in the outer boroughs and Westchester hate. There are still questions about how much of the money will go to mass transit or equipment to set up congestion pricing E-ZPass-type systems, some of which may be answered during today's press conference.

The Sun reminds us that the MTA has made plans assuming that the city will get over $500 million in federal funding - guess the MTA will have to re-work their numbers. And the city and state will have to create its congestion pricing commission.

Finally, this brilliant image is from Loho10002. We'd pay to see this movie.

Update: The US DOT will give NYC $354 million; DOT secretary Mary Peters said that the Legislature must agree to a plan within 90 days of convening, which is about March 2008 according to the Times. She said, "If the city does not have the legal authority to move forward at that time, it will not receive the money." Her other remarks, via the Times:

Ms. Peters said that so long as the commission approves a traffic plan that meets the same “performance objectives” as the mayor’s original plan, the city would receive the balance of the money. At a news conference this morning, Ms. Peters said that the federal government supported Mayor Bloomberg’s plan because it was “as brass and bold as New York City itself.”

“The average New York commuter now spends 49 hours stuck in traffic every year, up from 18 hours in 1982,” she said. “While some may be content to accept growing gridlock as a way of life, Mayor Bloomberg is not going to let traffic rob the Big Apple.

“New Yorkers,” she added, “must understand that we must stop relying on yesterday’s ideas to fight today’s traffic jams.”