ANYONE who spends much time in the vicinity of East 86th Street, on the Upper East Side, is well acquainted with congestion. The street is one of the main two-way routes between the East River and Central Park, and on any given day it is home to a glut of vendors' tables and vans, to city buses, to delivery trucks, to commuters rushing to and from the subway past gaudy store displays -- and to residents.
For all these people, it might seem that a sweeping plan to tame the traffic, like the mayor's congestion pricing plan currently being discussed by the state's New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission, would be a hit. But on this particular street, the plan has been a tough sell. The street represents the northern boundary of the zone that drivers would have to pay to enter during business hours on weekdays, and some people in the area fear that the fees will make life in the border zone even more chaotic.
Elaine Walsh, president of the East 86th Street Merchants and Residents Association, has a list of questions: Will residents who park in the area and drive to work outside the zone have to pay to leave? What about people who pass in and out of the zone while looking for parking spots? Will businesses just inside the line suffer?
There is also the issue of the hour in the evening, currently fixed at 6 p.m., after which tolls for vehicles heading into the zone would end. "Whenever it ends, you'll have people waiting," Ms. Walsh said. "Let's take people going to the theater. They're going to wait until 6 to come in."
In the meantime, she predicted, these drivers will sit above 86th Street, engines idling. "They'll be waiting all the way north," Ms. Walsh said. "They won't all fit on 86th Street. It'll be the new L.I.E."
A mayoral spokeswoman said that people who move their cars to comply with alternate-side-of-the-street parking regulations would not be charged, and that stepped-up traffic enforcement around the boundary would help prevent cars from idling there. The Transportation Department also will consider ideas like permit parking, the spokeswoman added.
City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, whose district includes 86th Street, said that calls to her office about congestion pricing were about evenly split for and against the plan -- and that, somewhat to her surprise, public response had been muted.
The next meeting of the congestion commission is scheduled for Oct. 25, and the panel is expected to submit a final recommendation by the end of January and to hold a series of public hearings.
In considering the plan's impact, Councilwoman Lappin has also been thinking about London, which has a similar plan.
"When you look at London," she said. "the zone is a lot more of a commercial business district. And when you look at what's being proposed for Manhattan, there's a lot more residential included."
People, she said, wonder why. "People say: 'I didn't choose to live down on Wall Street or in Midtown. I chose to live further uptown in what I consider a residential area. So why would the city say 79th and East End Avenue is the central business district?'"
Ms. Lappin sees congestion pricing as a promising solution that deserves a chance. But she is quick to add, "The devil is in the details."
One person who sees a silver lining in the 86th Street boundary is Glenn McAnanama, a supporter of congestion pricing and the president of Upper Green Side, a neighborhood environmental group. In his opinion, placing the boundary at 86th Street, far from most workers' offices, would make people less likely to park just outside the border and walk or take the subway the rest of the way.
"People who have been looking at transportation in this neighborhood know that the current situation is completely unacceptable in the long term," Mr. McAnanama said. "I think it would be a real shame if the details were to get in the way so that nothing gets done."