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Cuomo to unveil congestion pricing plan for Manhattan this week

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo giving his

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo giving his State of the State speech at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, NY Wednesday Jan, 3, 2018. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will put forth a congestion pricing plan this week that will charge motorists for driving through parts of Manhattan during certain times of day, he said Tuesday.

At his annual executive budget presentation, Cuomo revealed that his Fix NYC panel — charged last year with coming up with a fair congestion pricing plan — will release its recommendations by Friday and that they will define a geographic “pricing zone” for drivers within the borough.

“If you drive into that zone at certain times, you can pay a toll,” said Cuomo, who explained that the system would be similar to the cashless tolling recently rolled out across all Metropolitan Transportation Authority bridges and tunnels.

“The technology exists,” Cuomo added. “We have to define the zone. We have to determine the fees. We have to determine the hours.”

Facing growing pressure to create a dedicated revenue stream for the MTA, which has proposed an $836 million plan to reverse failing subway performance, Cuomo last summer declared congestion pricing as an “idea whose time has come.”

It’s the latest pass at a proposal that has drawn harsh criticism in the past, including when then-mayor Michael Bloomberg unsuccessfully tried to advance congestion pricing in New York City a decade ago. Cuomo’s plan would have to be approved by the state legislature.

Modern congestion pricing plans, including the Move NY plan proposed by transportation engineer “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, have gained support from several elected leaders.

Unlike the Move NY plan, Cuomo said his Fix NYC plan “doesn’t toll bridges” into and out of Manhattan that are currently free, like the Queensboro Bridge. But, like the Move NY plan, it would charge drivers for entering the most congested parts of Manhattan during certain times. Schwartz’ proposed zone would have been south of 60th Street.

Reached Tuesday, Schwartz, who was part of Cuomo’s Fix NYC panel, praised Cuomo for moving forward with a plan.

“This would be the first time any city in the United States introduced congestion pricing,” Schwartz said. “It takes a brave politician to put that forward. I commend the governor for having that courage.”

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