Mayor pitches traffic toll plan to state leaders
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pitched his plan for traffic congestion tolls to state Assembly leaders at a hearing Friday. Bloomberg urged the panel to quickly approve his traffic plan because he said the health of New York communities depends on it. The plan was met with skepticism from state leaders, who say it will harm low-income commuters. But the mayor contends that the vast majority of low-income commuters use mass transit. The mayor?s plan calls for cars to pay $8 and trucks to pay $21 per day to drive into Manhattan south of 86th Street between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Instead of installing new tollbooths, the plan calls for a network of cameras to record driver?s license plate numbers and bill the drivers. Drivers would be required to pay their fees within 48 hours of traveling in the area. They can pay the fees on the Internet, through the mail, an E-ZPass account, the 311 hotline or at retail locations around the city. Bloomberg says the plan will improve air quality and allow people to do business better. The mayor remains confident his plan will pass, but says the clock is ticking. The program is in the semifinalist stage for federal money. Federal officials said Thursday they would need to know that the state will support the plan before they move it into the finalist round. The camera aspect is raising questions and concerns about invasion of privacy. ?If George Bush had offered to put thousands of cameras on streets to observe citizens and their lawful activities, people on the left would be outraged,? said Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester).
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