Both supporters and opponents of congestion pricing doubt that Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be able to reach anything like a consensus among elected officials by the time the State Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on June 21.
In interviews over the past week with about two dozen people involved in the debate over whether to impose a fee on cars and trucks entering or driving around Manhattan south of 86th Street, The Observer found that many officials who described themselves as neutral on the issue said that Mr. Bloomberg might eventually win them over.
But they said that so many details needed to be worked out that it was virtually impossible to meet the Mayor’s self-imposed deadline of June 21. (The plan needs the Legislature’s approval.)
“No, not by the end of the legislative session,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a former state legislator who has praised the Mayor’s plan but stopped short of a full endorsement. “First, you need a plan; then you need to have a plan that’s enhanced by input from the communities that are being affected by it.”
“I would be surprised if we got it done by the end of the session,” said State Senator Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who represents the Upper West Side and Washington Heights. “The essence of the Mayor’s vision is fantastic, and I think this is the kind of big-picture, transformative stuff we need to see from the government. But I am concerned about some of the details.”
All in all, though, even opponents concede that the Mayor’s rollout of the plan has been a great show to watch.
It started with orchestrated leaks, followed by an extravagant sound-and-light show at the Museum of Natural History, and was capped off last week by having New York host the C40 summit on climate change—a conference of mayors and governors from around the world attended by former President Bill Clinton, who endorsed congestion pricing.
Indeed, by wrapping a traffic-control program into the clothing of an environmental program, Mr. Bloomberg and his allies will ever be able to cast their opponents as small-minded curmudgeons oblivious to the polar ice caps melting.