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De Blasio: Charging drivers to ease congestion ‘not part of my vision’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, shown

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, shown above giving the State of the City address, said Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, that charging motorists to drive in Manhattan is not among his plans to ease traffic congestion. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that charging motorists for driving in busy Manhattan is “not part of my vision” to ease congestion in New York City.

Speaking at an unrelated event in Brooklyn, de Blasio declined to support so-called congestion pricing, which would install a series of cameras and sensors to track whenever a vehicle enters the most crowded parts of the borough and issue tolls accordingly.

De Blasio said he’s “understood the intellectual rationale for it, but I’ve always had concerns.”

Congestion pricing, which is in place in other cities, including London, Singapore, and Stockholm, is meant to curb gridlock and reduce pollution. But locally the plan has failed to attract the support of Albany, whose greenlight is necessary to impose such a charge.

Seeking to allay concerns of outerborough lawmakers — who led opposition the last time a different version of congestion pricing was proposed under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg — transit advocates have developed Move NY, a plan to toll the four free East River bridges and travel south of 60th Street in Manhattan. Move NY would also reduce tolls on other bridges, such as the Throgs Neck, between Queens and the Bronx.

In his annual State of the City address delivered Monday night, de Blasio said he would unveil a plan “in the coming weeks” to alleviate traffic.

“Because we’re so much a victim of our own success with tourism and business booming, we also have a greater congestion problem on our streets than we’ve seen in a long time,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio, a Democrat who is up for re-election this year, said it’s “just a blunt, hard reality” that congestion pricing would fail to gain support in Albany, where the plan died the last time.

“It’s not even gonna get to first base . . . so it’s not part of my vision,” he said.

De Blasio is taking a different approach on pushing Albany to pass a so-called “mansion tax” of 2.5 percent on homes of $2 million or more.

“You will hear people say it cannot be done. They will say there’s no way you can get it through Albany,” he said during his speech Monday night. “So if we speak loudly, Albany will listen.”

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