🚘 Congestion pricing showdown looming for NJ and NY
🚘 Many NJ drivers may not be able to afford to drive into NYC
🚘 NJ could soon file a lawsuit to block the plan

A final decision on New York’s congestion pricing plan could come in the next month after the U.S. Department of Transportation decided that an in-depth environmental study was not needed to allow the proposed plan to move forward.

If it’s approved, New Jersey drivers heading into midtown Manhattan below 60th Street could wind up paying an additional $23 a day.

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, who’s been leading the charge to block congestion pricing, expressed anger at the latest turn of events.

They've got to be stopped, lawmaker says

chris-mueller ThinkStock

Gottheimer said he’s introduced bipartisan legislation to require an audit of the $15 billion the Metropolitan Transportation Authority received during the pandemic because it’s been completely used up, and no one is sure how the money was spent.

“The second thing we’re going to demand is, if you go ahead New York with this congestion tax, if you want to go ahead we’re actually going to take away the federal money that goes to the MTA every year, that’s $2 billion,” he said.

Gottheimer said the message being sent to New York is, “You can’t stick it to Jersey, stick it to everybody else and think the federal government should also give you money.”

He noted the MTA, in its own report, admitted the plan will cause more traffic congestion and pollution in parts of New Jersey and New York surrounding Manhattan, so a lawsuit will be filed to block the project.

A lawsuit may be the next step

An Image of a lawsuit
Ulf Wittrock

Last summer, Gov. Phil Murphy said if necessary he would block congestion pricing by not approving the minutes of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey meeting minutes. The PA allocates hundreds of millions of dollars a year for transportation projects for both New Jersey and New York.

On Friday, Murphy called congestion pricing a “money grab” and said “until New York’s congestion pricing plan is fixed, I will keep working closely with partners from both states and both sides of the aisle, including Congressman Gottheimer and our congressional delegation, to halt implementation of this misguided tolling plan. Our Administration is closely assessing all legal options.”

Gottheimer pointed out that the revenue stream of the Port Authority would be hurt by congestion pricing.

The plan doesn't make sense, he said

GW Bridge Cashless Tolling
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

“We think it’s about $1 billion over the next 10 years of lost income by people suddenly not being able to afford to actually drive into New York anymore, and so fewer tolls, right," Gottheimer said.

He said if that happens, Port Authority spending would be adversely impacted, which is one more reason congestion is a bad idea that must be stopped.

“At the time they’re desperately trying to get people back (to the city) they turn around and say to every Jersey commuter, we’re going to hand you an extra $23 bill, welcome back to New York, what a great gift. I mean, it’s so outrageous.”
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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