Thank you for sharing your views with me regarding congestion pricing. Below, please find the statement I was prepared to make on the floor of the Assembly had the bill been brought to a vote. The statement contains many of my reservations concerning the plan. These are the same reservations I expressed to the Mayor and his staff, at public hearings and at several Assembly Majority conferences.
Mr. Speaker, on the bill, I will vote yes on the Congestion Pricing Plan. I will vote yes even though I still have major concerns and questions about the plan itself.
I agree too many motorists drive gas guzzling vehicles, polluting our air, causing high rates of asthma.
Representing downtown Brooklyn, I know too well the traffic jams caused by the hundreds of cars, taxis, trucks and limos traveling into Manhattan via the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. For years I have requested that city, state, and federal officials study the effect of the one-way toll on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge with no success. We all know trucks travel from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, through Staten Island, enter the Gowanus Expressway on their way to Manhattan, then exit via the George Washington Bridge never paying a toll. And when the traffic builds up, these same trucks exit the Gowanus Expressway and travel through our brownstone neighborhoods.
I suggested at a Public Hearing that trucks make Manhattan deliveries before 7 AM and after 6 PM. I suggested increased ferry service, the creation of a three-person HOV Zone in Manhattan, increased accessibility at all our subways and expansion of bicycle lanes. None of these suggestions made their way into the final plan.
Another major concern is the lack of accountability from the MTA, the same MTA who sold the Atlantic Yards at a fraction of its worth. This is the same MTA who has warehoused their downtown building for years, using it for storage and has now committed $150 million in its 5-Year Capital Plan for renovation.
So today I vote for this plan with the hope the discussion continues. My suggestions as well as those of my colleagues deserve a fair hearing. All of us want, need and demand a superior mass transportation system, cleaner air, and a pedestrian friendlier city.
Thank you Mr. Speaker