Just a week after USDOT’s announcement that New York City would receive $354.4 million through the Urban Partnership Program in order to improve mass transit and implement congestion pricing, the city and state took the important step of naming members to the NYC Traffic Mitigation Congestion Commission.
The 17-member panel contains many supporters of congestion pricing, and a majority of its members were appointed by Governor Spitzer, Mayor Bloomberg, and City Council Speaker Quinn, all of whom support congestion pricing.
However, the Commission is charged only with reviewing Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC proposal and other congestion mitigation proposals, holding public hearings, and presenting its recommendations to the state and city lawmakers.
The Commission’s recommendation must be approved by the City Council in a “home rule” vote. Legislation then requires the state legislature to consider the Commission’s recommended plan by March 31st (coinciding with federal requirements for the city’s participation in USDOT’s Urban Partnership Program). norcalmls However, state lawmakers may choose to approve an entirely different plan, or no plan at all.
Known congestion pricing supporters on the panel include NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn, MTA Executive Director and CEO Elliot Sander, the Straphangers Campaign’s Gene Russianoff, Kathy Wylde of the Partnership for New York City, Andy Darrell from Environmental Defense, and Andrea Batista Schlesinger of the Drum Major Institute.
State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester), who has been an outspoken opponent of congestion pricing, was also appointed to the Commission, by NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Though he promised to remain objective, his opposition to the plan seems firmly entrenched and will likely be a large obstacle to the consensus Commission Head Marc Shaw hopes to find.