USDOT offers $354 mil in gas taxes to NYC if it implements "congestion tolling"

Link to article here.

Talk about bribe money…for anyone who still thinks that the Bush Administration or federal government has no role in this push to toll tax everything that moves (in a double or triple tax on driving), feast your eyes on this story. The U.S Department of Transportation is offering up $354 million in “incentives” (ie – bribes) to New York City if they PUNISH motorists (with a DOUBLE TAX) for the unmitigated gall of entering the city limits during rush hour. So the Bush Administration is now paying local government to DOUBLE TAX TOLL its citizens. They claim there’s no money to build roads, perhaps that’s because they’re too busy funneling gas taxes into toll roads instead of maintaining our aging infrastructure and an efficient freeway system!

So they’re actually advocating TRIPLE TAXATION if those dollars are used to implement the toll roads (as Bloomberg says he plans to do)…the gas tax you paid for the existing non-toll road, the gas taxes used to implement tolls, and the toll you pay to use the road you now use toll-free. What government efficiency! You pay for something twice and then they charge you again to lease it back to you. More accurately, what a scam and public fleecing!

NYC gets $354 million for traffic-toll plan

BY ANN GIVENS AND JAMES T. MADORE

ann.givens@newsday.com and james.madore@newsday.com

August 15, 2007

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to reduce midtown traffic by collecting tolls from vehicles that travel to the city on weekdays got a major boost Tuesday, when the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it will pay $354 million to launch the plan.

Still, “congestion pricing” is hardly a done deal. The city won’t get the money unless state legislators approve Bloomberg’s plan or an alternative to it within 90 days of reconvening — roughly by the end of March, DOT Secretary Mary Peters said at a news conference.

So far, all state lawmakers have agreed to do is appoint a commission to study the plan. That commission’s recommendations, which are expected by Jan. 31, must then be brought back to the City Council and state legislature for final approval.

“This is a very significant piece of what we need to begin this process,” said Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who answered questions on the DOT announcement alongside Bloomberg at an affordable housing news conference in the Bronx yesterday. “We feel great that we will get this done.”

Spitzer and others said now that the federal money has come through, they expect to appoint the members of the 17-member commission soon.

The mayor’s plan is to charge motorists $8 — $21 for trucks — to enter Manhattan below 86th Street on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Motorists within the zone also would have to pay to drive but the charges would be lower. He says it would be a way to reduce congestion and pollution while creating a steady source of money for mass transit improvements.

New York would be the first U.S. city to implement the plan, which is in place in London and Singapore.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who has raised many questions about the mayor’s plan, stressed that it hasn’t been approved yet.

“My Assembly colleagues in and near New York City have heard concerns from their constituents as well. I believe it is essential that we consider these concerns,” Silver said.

Some lawmakers from Long Island and the four boroughs outside Manhattan have said the plan will squeeze their constituents, many of whom commute into the city; stress public transportation; and cause parking problems outside the toll areas.

“If the City Council and state Legislature come up with a viable alternative to the mayor’s plan, I believe Transportation Secretary Peters has an obligation to approve that plan,” Silver added.

Bloomberg said he is open to new ideas.

“We’re not married to any one plan; we’re married to reducing congestion so the economy isn’t hurt and so our air is better,” Bloomberg said. “I’ll junk my plan and take yours if it’s better.”

The $354 million, which Bloomberg said he will use to pay for the plan’s start-up costs, is about $150 million less than the city had asked for, but about $150 million more than the amount the legislature set as a minimum for the state commission to proceed.

Peters said the legislature’s bickering about the plan — and failure to meet a July 16 deadline to approve it — was not the reason the city didn’t get the full $536 million it requested. New York was among nine finalists for $1.1 billion in federal funds being awarded to combat urban congestion.

The DOT money would help buy buses and set up express routes, park-and-ride facilities, ferries, and cameras and electronic toll collectors to track vehicles entering Manhattan, Bloomberg said.

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