[032212tolls]Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal

The Queens Midtown Tunnel toll plaza.

All Sam Schwartz needs now is a champion.

The former city traffic commissioner has spent a year and a half quietly trying to build support for his plan to toll the city’s East River bridges and drivers passing south of 60th Street, cut tolls for drivers in the outer boroughs, and use the resulting flood of new revenue to right the listing finances of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In one-on-one and group briefings, Mr. Schwartz has presented his frequently tweaked PowerPoint as many as 35 times to city and state officials, including Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway, along with banks and fellow engineers.

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Mr. Holloway this week said Mayor Michael Bloomberg remains open to the concept of congestion pricing but isn’t pursuing the idea actively. Mr. Bloomberg spent enormous sums of money and political capital to get congestion pricing through the state Legislature in 2008, only to see it die without a vote.

Meanwhile, Mr. Schwartz has yet to reach the state’s most powerful players—Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Spokesmen for Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Skelos didn’t respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Mr. Silver declined to comment on the plan.

Mr. Schwartz concedes: “All this means nothing if the three men in a room don’t agree.”

But Mr. Schwartz—a loquacious native New Yorker who wrote a newspaper column for years on traffic and served as traffic commissioner during the 1980s, when the city infrastructure

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