Spitzer’s Crashing and Burning May Put Congestion Pricing Back on the Road

Paterson
Photo: Newscom


In one of its more curious repercussions, it looks like Eliot Spitzer’s fall might mean the resurrection of Mayor Bloomberg’s congestion-pricing agenda. The groups pushing for a fee on midtown driving to fund mass-transit improvements say that governor designate David Paterson’s reputation as a conciliator bodes well for brokering a deal on the controversial proposal. As it stands, city and state lawmakers must adopt a proposed pricing plan by March 31 to retain a $354 million federal start-up grant — but that too could now change. The city will likely play the our-state-government-is-in-crisis card, pressing the Feds — who badly want to see New York get the money — to extend the deadline. (An ally of Sheldon Silver sniffed: “The mayor's office has cooked up lots of deadlines and may be cooking up this one, too.”)

Meanwhile, Paterson should be so eager for a positive political climate that he’ll be inclined to bring together what one veteran lobbyist calls the “Big Ugly” — a massive deal in which lawmakers get raises, Bloomberg gets congestion pricing, and the governor gets something or another — without making the tough campaign-finance-reform demands that Spitzer had wanted. We expect Paterson will be thrilled to talk about transportation without its involving Kristen’s ride on Amtrak. —Alec Appelbaum