From The Desk Of Senator Craig M. Johnson: Don't Tread On Us

Craig M. Johnson

January 25, 2008

Thank you members of the Commission for hosting this meeting in Nassau County

As you know from previous testimony I have given, I am opposed to Mayor Bloomberg’s Congestion Pricing plan, as I believe it will place an undue burden on the residents of Long Island who commute into Manhattan.

I have already stated my reasons for this, however I have a new set of concerns that greatly reinforce my opposition. Today I speak from the heart.

It is my understanding that Congestion Pricing is now being tied to one or more of the MTA / LIRR’s proposed capital projects insofar as revenue realized from the pricing plan will offset some of the costs of the Third Track, which affects many communities that I represent.

It simply comes down to this – you want to impose a commuter tax on Long Island residents and in-turn fund a project that has been so far justified by what seems to be a new explanation each week.

First it was to handle increased freight, then it was to handle a non-existent reverse commute, and now the current reasoning is that a passing lane is needed for increased ridership from east to west – an HOV lane of sorts for the railroad.

To follow the flip-flopping is maddening for anyone who may be affected by this.

And yet -- this continues to press on, tying one poorly vetted idea to another as it relates to community impact.

You will do nothing here but shift congestion from New York City to Nassau County.

You will turn our neighborhoods into parking lots.

And, you will choke the flow of traffic and destroy what remains of our suburban quality of life if you do not take local concerns into account.

If I may coin a new term, we are witnessing the birth of “dumb growth.”

You are robbing Peter to pay Paul. The problem is, Paul will not be satisfied until Peter is not only broke, but buried under a mountain of traffic and train tracks.

I implore you to listen to the residents who care so much about their neighborhoods. Please listen to the local elected officials who know their communities and care about their future direction.

Again, please take local concerns into consideration and the negative impact these plans can have before you move forward.

Thank you.