Taking its toll

Las Vegans like to believe that local traffic is a bear. Truth be told, Southern Nevada doesn’t rank that high on a list of the nation’s most congested metropolitan areas. Not yet, at least.

That’s little solace to local drivers, who struggle each day to navigate the orange cones and barrels.

But it could be worse — things are so bad in London and Singapore, for instance, that those places have imposed tolls on drivers who enter busy areas.

And now New York City could be next.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed an initiative to discourage drivers from entering parts of Manhattan. Drivers hoping to venture south of 86th Street between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. would pay $8 for the privilege. Trucks would be hit with a $21 fee.

Critics say the tolls would amount to a huge tax on middle-class workers who live outside the city. They’ll have their say when a commission holds hearings on Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal.

If the plan does come to fruition, though, Las Vegans will have helped pay for it. That’s right: New York City has its hand out to the federal government in hopes of securing tens of millions of dollars in tax money to implement Mr. Bloomberg’s pricing scheme.

Apparently, Washington has some $1.2 billion to toss around in federal aid — under the “Urban Partner” program — designed to help cities reduce congestion and air pollution. New York City hopes to get its hands on almost half of that as part of its toll plan.

The obvious question: Why would it take that kind of cash to put Mr. Bloomberg’s plan in place, especially when the tolls themselves should cover much of the cost?

It shouldn’t. These are not federal highways we’re talking about. The Urban Partner program is just more pork.

If New York City wants to charge drivers to tour Manhattan, fine. Just don’t ask taxpayers in Las Vegas — or anywhere else — to pay for it.

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