When someone mentions driving through the heart of Manhattan, the words gridlock , traffic, and headache all come to mind. To mitigate the madness, the federal government announced today that it is giving the city of New York $345 million to launch an ambitious toll plan.
The effort, called congestion pricing, would charge drivers to enter the most congested parts of the Big Apple. Cars would pay $8 and trucks $21 on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been promoting the program for months, saying it would reduce traffic jams and greenhouse gas emissions, but it recently was derailed by state lawmakers concerned it would burden middle-class workers living outside Manhattan.
The Bloomberg administration and state legislators came to a tenuous agreement that included creating a panel to research whether this plan would actually be effective. So even with the federal funding in place, it's still up in the air as to whether the plan will be implemented. The panel's findings are to be out in January.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is looking at a handful of cities to see which ones are the most worthy of federal funding to handle what has become a national traffic problem. As U.S. News reported in April, population and car ownership have outpaced road construction. In addition, many people cannot find affordable housing near their jobs, forcing more and more commuters onto the roads, backing them up for hours upon hours.
Some cities are trying to fight back, New York one of them. However, even with the city's reputation for horrendous traffic, Bloomberg and his supporters will have some convincing to do before state legislators allow any toll program.