Just as the mayor sounded optimistic about his congestion pricing plan, a key player in Albany continued to raise doubts Monday. NY1’s Rita Nissan filed the following report.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may, once again, derail one of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's pet projects — congestion pricing.
“I think there's a lot of questions out there that have to be answered,” said the speaker.
Silver stopped short of saying no to the proposal, which would charge drivers entering Manhattan below 86th Street $8 to ease traffic and cut pollution. But he says it does nothing to deal with the high rate of asthma in children of the South Bronx, Harlem and other neighborhoods.
"Some of those areas will not benefit by the target of congestion pricing,” said Silver. “In fact, some of those areas will become parking lots with people driving around the neighborhoods looking for parking spots in order to avoid congestion pricing fees.”
Silver indicated passage in his chamber doesn't look likely in the final two weeks of the legislative session.
“You know, if there was nothing else doing, it could happen in the next few weeks,” said Silver. “But unfortunately, or fortunately, there are other things doing here in the state Legislature.”
He left the door open for reaching a deal by August. That's the deadline for the city to get federal funding. But, before Silver made those comments, the mayor said he wasn't giving up on getting it done now.
“We have to keep working with Speaker Silver, and he couldn't be more open,” said Bloomberg.
He had kind words for Silver.
“He's given us every opportunity to make our case and continues to be receptive to us working with his staff,” said the mayor. “Whether we get there or not, that's up to us to convince him, and I think, certainly, he has a very open mind and will do what's in the interest of all the city.”
But for now, it's looking more and more like congestion pricing will suffer the same fate as the West Side Stadium, which Speaker Silver had a pivotal role in blocking.
- Rita Nissan