NEW YORK (CBS 2/ WCBS 880) — Mayor Michael Bloomberg ignited another firestorm of controversy on Friday over East River tolls.
Just when you thought the plan was out of gas the mayor is bringing it back, reports CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.
Bloomberg wants to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. Well, not sell it exactly — just sell you on the idea of paying when you use it. He wants the same thing to happen on the Queensboro Bridge, the Williamsburg Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, the Willis Avenue Bridge and all the other Harlem and East River crossings that currently allow you to enter the sacred island of Manhattan for free.
“Probably if you wanted to do it in this day and age you just toll all the bridges around Manhattan, not just a handful down below,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor’s pet project has raised its furry little head again as part of a new effort to get congestion pricing — now rebranded as “traffic pricing” — to raise money for the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The new selling points are promises of bus and subway service restoration, payroll tax relief for suburban businesses and a fare rollback.
“We could have reduced the cost of the fare because if you put in some labor-saving technology, which costs money, that’s where your real savings are,” Bloomberg said.
Ask New Yorkers and they have wide-ranging opinions.
“We should just have a big parking lot outside the city like Venice,” Forest Hills resident Gwen Leifer said.
“I don’t think it’s ever going to happen because they always say they’re going to give us something back. You never really see it,” added Laura Fritz of Bay Ridge.
“I don’t think it’s gonna work. A lot of New Yorkers are depending on their traffic, their cars to get in and out, especially for businesses,” said Chris Cruz of Maspeth, Queens.
“This may be a good idea,” said Neil Roberts of Carroll Gardens.
“Bad idea. No more money. I don’t want to spend any more money,” Park Slope’s Fay Sachpatzidis said.
A large group of public officials and business groups is currently drawing a new plan to sell this proposal, but, as usual, its fate rests in Albany’s hands.
This is the third time tolling the Harlem and East River bridges has been proposed as part of a plan to charge people to enter the central business district of Manhattan. Its success will ride on whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo goes back on a pledge not to raise taxes this year.
So far, there’s been no comment from Cuomo on the plan.
Do you think the mayor’s “traffic pricing” and East River bridges tolling proposals are good ideas? Let us know in the comments section below.