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Traffic plan’s impact on Queens mixed: Report

According to projections compiled by the Congestion Mitigation Commission, Long Island City, Astoria and Sunnyside would see a reduction in vehicle miles traveled between 5.6 percent and 7.5 percent, depending on the proposal.But a sizable number of the commuters paying to get into the city would hail from Queens.Of the five boroughs, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, New Jersey and Connecticut, Queens had the second highest number of total workers commuting to Manhattan each day. Some 354,795 people made the trip daily, according to 2006 U.S. Census survey data, second only to Brooklyn's 359,608.Queens also has the second largest number of motorists who commute, with 51,681, or 17.6 percent of all commuting motorists. Only New Jersey, with 69,375 commuting motorists, outpaced the borough.Of those driving to Manhattan, Queens residents also had the lowest average income at $52,024, and the second-lowest median income at $42,252.Members of the commission questioned whether the report's projections took into account problems with parking around transit hubs."I'm very concerned about parking," said state Assemblyman Herman Farrell Jr. (D-Manhattan).The city Department of Transportation has said it is investigating options like residential parking permits and muni meters that require a license plate number in order to prevent a motorist from parking for more than two hours.MTA chief Elliot Sander said the overall problem of traffic congestion and financing mass transit improvement transcends the issue of parking.Four separate proposals are now on the table to help reduce traffic congestion and raise transit money for New York City. But the final product may be a hybrid of all four, members of the advisory board said at a hearing last week.Mayor Bloomberg's plan would charge an $8 fee for passenger vehicles entering or leaving Manhattan below 86th Street during the business day.The alternate congestion pricing plan would charge the same $8 fee, but would set the northern boundary at 60th Street. It also reduces the number of license plate-scanning camera locations proposed in the mayor's plan from 340 to roughly 30, resulting in lower capital and operating expenses.A third option on the table are tolls on all East River crossings. The plan calls for a $4 minimum toll on the crossings at all times.The final proposal suggests "license plate rationing," a system in which 20 percent of New York-registered vehicles would not be allowed into Manhattan on each business day.Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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