Plan for 'congestion pricing' to reduce N.Y. traffic receives boost

The Baltimore Sun

ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's plan to reduce traffic by charging commuters who drive into Manhattan received a significant boost yesterday, as Gov. Eliot Spitzer endorsed the idea and the Bush administration indicated that New York stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars if the plan is enacted.

If the measure were approved by the Legislature, New York would become the first U.S. city to impose a broad system of "congestion pricing," which was introduced in London in 2003 and has reduced traffic there.

Spitzer said he would work to ensure passage of the plan, which is a major part of the mayor's blueprint for improving air quality and traffic for the next several decades. The Bloomberg administration has estimated that it could put the program into effect within 18 months of legislative approval.

"This is a necessary investment for the future of New York City, which is to a great extent the economic engine of New York state," Spitzer said. "So this is not really a question of whether, it's a question of how, it's a question of making sure that we do it properly."

Spitzer appeared alongside U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters, who said New York City is one of nine finalists for a share of $1.1 billion in federal aid to fight urban traffic. Peters warned, however, that the city's potential share could be endangered if Bloomberg's plan does not have state approval by August.

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