NYC Mayor Michael BloombergNew York's mayor, Mike Bloomberg, is ready to steal a page from his London counterpart's handbook and announce plans to hit drivers who bring their cars into Manhattan below 86th street with an $8 congestion charge in a bid to ease gridlock in the city's crowded midtown business district. The fee would include the existing bridge and tunnel tolls drivers currently have to pay. Some people are understandably upset, and opposition groups are said to be forming in the outer boroughs.

Naturally, there will be exceptions. Taxis are unlikely to pay the fee, and there's word that drivers who avoid the business district while heading to other parts of the city could be exempt as well. The report also mentions possible discounts for individuals who live and/or work in the impacted zone. Mayor Bloomberg is expected to detail the specifics of his proposal in a speech he's giving tomorrow, and we'll follow up after we've heard all the particulars.

If the mayor does set the plan into motion, it'll need to be improved by the state legislature, meaning those of us (ahem) in the NYC media market are going to have the opportunity to watch the political fireworks unfold during the local evening newscasts. This is gonna get interesting.

UPDATE 4/22: Ahead of today's speech, WNYC (New York Public Radio) reported that drivers who use the FDR drive and West Side Highway would be exempted from the fee. The mayor stated as much in his weekly radio program on WABC. More on the proposal as we get the info.

[Source: WCBS TV, New York]