Gridlock relief? Congestion pricing could cost Manhattan drivers

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A plan to thin New York City's bad traffic by making part of Manhattan a toll zone is gaining momentum after years of political gridlock.

The latest attempt to control the constant traffic jams in Midtown will be unveiled later this week, this time by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The goal to is to reduce traffic by charging fees based on the time of day and what kind of vehicle is being driven. The so-called "congestion pricing" fees would also help pay for modernizing the subway system.

Some big cities already do it, including London, where it can cost more than $15 to drive into the city center.

But skeptics remain.

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to see details, while some state lawmakers say it will unfairly burden their constituents.

In October, Cuomo appointed a special panel called "Fix NYC" to figure out how to implement congestion pricing and how that money would be earmarked for the subway.

Possibilities the panel is considering include toll readers at 60th Street and below, with tolls running up to $12 per day, though the FDR might be exempted.

"You have to reduce the congestion in New York City," Cuomo said. "You can't drive. You can't make the delivery. You get in a cab, and in most cases, you're better off walking."

On Monday, Cuomo explained new technology means tolls don't have to be placed on East River bridges -- they can be moved wherever, and the charge can vary according to time of day and type of vehicle.

Alex Matthiessen, of MoveNY is a big advocate and expert on congestion pricing, and he says a $12 dollar daily fee is fair and justified.

"So why is it that there's one group that causes all this congestion and has, for the most part, other options getting into the CBD, the central business district?" he said. "Why do they pay zero dollars, year after year after year, while the fares and the tolls are going up for everybody else?"

Fix NYC will meet one more time to finish its report, then the governor will release the plan on Friday. It faces a fight from the mayor and Albany lawmakers, but congestion pricing is closer to a reality than it's ever been.

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