A group that has been advocating for the state legislature to approve tolls on New York City’s East River bridges to try to curb congestion said Monday that the Big Apple can actually legally adopt a similar plan on its own — but Mayor de Blasio immediately dismissed the idea.
The group, Move NY, is calling for a plan for a $2.75 toll each way on the Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg and Queensboro bridges. The toll also would be applied to every vehicle crossing 60th Street in Manhattan, both from the north and south.
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For-hire vehicles would be exempt from the charges but would pay a surcharge based on how long they spend below 96th street on Manhattan’s east side or below 110th Street on Manhattan’s west side. They would self-report their time in the zone to the Taxi & Limousine Commission, using GPS.
Move NY is now pointing to a 1957 law as giving the city the power to enact the tolls unilaterally, even though for years its push has been to get congestion pricing OK’d in Albany.
“The city absolutely does have the authority,” said Alex Matthiessen of Move NY at a City Council hearing on the matter on Monday. “This isn’t a legal question, it’s a political question.”
But when asked about the plan, de Blasio said at an unrelated press conference in Queens that city lawyers have determined it’s not something the administration and City Council can do on their own.
“The only way congestion pricing can even be considered is through Albany. That’s what has been determined by the Law Department long ago, and that’s not going to happen at this point in time,” he said at PS 81 in Ridgewood, Queens.
“I can tell you very squarely there’s not going to be any consideration of congestion pricing so long as the current political alignment in Albany exists.
“That is a hard reality,” he added. “So I’m not putting time and energy into something that’s not going to happen.”
Proponents of the plan say it would generate $1 billion annually that can go to repair bridges, city roads and subsidize cheaper subway fare for low-income New Yorkers.