Bloomberg rallies for congestion pricing support

NEW YORK - Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a Times Square rally Thursday to gain support for his PlanNYC program, which contains the controversial proposal for congestion pricing.

He was joined by supporters and environmentalists who claim the congestion pricing program will provide better air quality.

Federal officials have offered a grant totaling between $400,000 and $500,000 for the program, but state officials have yet to approve it. Bloomberg and supporters must convince the state to approve the program by July 16 to receive the federal money.

Part of the push to drum up support includes new flyers featuring a sad-looking girl squeezing an asthma inhaler. The flyer, mailed to about $350,000 families Thursday, features a girl breathing with an inhaler and the words, "She can not hold her breath waiting for Albany to act."

The mayor said the congestion pricing program will alleviate traffic and decrease pollution. Gridlock and heavy traffic have increased smog and green house gases, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg says the federal money will be put toward mass transit to provide more alternative transportation options within the boroughs.

Associated Press wire reports contributed to this story.

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