Statement by New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane Presented at the Manhattan Community Board 4, 5 and 6 Joint Hearing on Congestion Pricing

July 9, 2007

The paradox we face as New Yorkers today is that we live in an incredible city in which people from all over the world want to live, work, study, and visit, yet as a result, we're confronted with an influx of people, developments, and vehicles that do serious damage to the very things that make our City so desirable. My Senate district, more than most, has suffered tremendously from this irony.

Thirty years ago, if our City's leadership had shown the kind of forward thinking that Mayor Bloomberg has demonstrated with his PlaNYC initiative, we might not have so many of the environmental concerns we have today.

Of particular note is the Mayor's plan for congestion pricing -- an idea that I wholeheartedly support. Among other benefits, it will put the focus back on public transportation by making it more advantageous, available and effective; it will improve air-quality for the entire New York City area by reducing the number of vehicles on the roads; and it will make it easier to for businesses to thrive in New York by increasing the efficiency of travel and deliveries.

However, there are still many details to be worked out in this plan, and, as you know, it requires approval from the State Legislature. In the final weeks of Session, a bill related to congestion pricing was introduced in the State Senate and is currently pending in the Senate Rules Committee, but a version has yet to be introduced in the State Assembly. At this time, there is no consensus in either house of the Legislature about congestion pricing and what form it will take. It is hoped that these difficult decisions will be made by July 16th -- a deadline given to New York by the U.S. Department of Transportation in order to receive substantial Federal funding for the project.

Given this uncertainty, while I continue to endorse the concept of congestion pricing, and hope to vote in the affirmative for any legislation that ultimately comes to the Senate floor, until I know what congestion pricing bill I will be voting on and the provisions it contains, I cannot commit to vote in favor. I believe it is my responsibility as a Senator to review carefully any plan that may come before the Legislature for a vote. But I do believe that congestion pricing will play an important role in reducing some of the negative impacts on our neighborhoods, and I am hopeful that a well considered bill will pass the State Legislature before the end of this summer.

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