‘Gridlock Sam’s’ Traffic Report

April 18, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Dennis Holt

Senior Editor

He “invented” the word “gridlock,” and it has become his nickname, as in Gridlock Sam. He detests what gridlock is and has a plan to mitigate and sharply reduce congestion in our city, especially Manhattan.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Although he wisely avoids the phrase, his new plan is a congestion pricing approach, though it is slightly different from others advanced in recent years — and because he is Sam Schwartz, probably the most outstanding traffic expert in the city, his plan might have a chance. He also has a dog named Brooklyn, so he can’t be all bad.

Let’s get the big numbers up front and go from there. Schwartz believes his plan would produce 35,000 new jobs and generate $1.2 billion in revenues, which could be used for much needed infrastructure repairs.

As with other plans promoted in recent years, a core element of the Schwartz plan is a $5 toll for crossing the East River bridges. He would also charge $5 for all vehicles crossing 60th Street and a surcharge for taxis and liveries crossing 86th Street, which should generate $280 million.

His plan would increase the tunnel tolls in Brooklyn and Queens by 20 cents with making those tolls an even $5.00. He would leave the Hudson River tolls as they are, but would sharply reduce the Verrazano one-way toll, as well as the tolls for the RFK Bridge and others connecting Queens and the Bronx.

Therefore, going to and from the outer boroughs would be less costly, which none of the other plans had. Schwartz also would impose a 50-cent fee for bikes on bridges. According to Crain’s New York Business, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has also suggested a “walking fee” across the bridges.

The trouble with this and all other plans is that Albany would have to approve it, and upstate Republicans don’t like to have the city less dependent on them.

There are also no provisions for managing daytime truck deliveries or requiring staggered working hours. And, clearly an oversight by Schwartz, we don’t believe there are any provisions for residential permit parking for the downtown Brooklyn area.

But the Schwartz plan does contain some new wrinkles and more important it strongly reinforces most people’s conviction that we have talked and studied enough; now it is time to get on with some solid reforms that will make our city better in reality, not just in theory.

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