FORT LEE, New Jersey (WABC) — Officials in New Jersey say New York City’s congestion pricing plan will hurt commuters from the Garden State and they are fighting the plan on several fronts.
Sen. Bob Menendez introduced federal legislation Monday aimed at putting the brakes on the plan called the STOP NJ CONGESTION Act.
He stood steps away from the George Washington Bridge and argued the plan will hurt the state’s infrastructure and transit system.
“We’re going to fight tooth and nail to keep New York from going forward with this plan,” Menendez said. “If any jurisdiction imposes a congestion pricing system in a way that does not involve all the participants…it would reduce federal highway funding proportionately.”
The senator said that could be just the beginning if congestion pricing goes through.
The proposed legislation would impose highway sanctions on any state that implements the program described in the final Environmental Assessment for the Central Business District Tolling Program, or any similar program, causing New York to lose 50% of their National Highway Performance Program and Surface Transportation Block Grant Program funding if they choose to move forward with the proposal.
“My bill is simple. If congestion pricing is given final approval and New York moves forward with implementing its misguided plan, my bill would impose highway sanctions against the State of New York. In addition, my bill would require New York to meaningfully engage with – and receive consent from – affected states like New Jersey before any congestion pricing is approved,” said Sen. Menendez. “This would guarantee New Jersey a seat at the table for future proposals, something we should have had all along. My bill slams the brakes on this awful congestion pricing plan. I’ll say it again, this congestion pricing plan is a no-win for our state.”
He argued in addition to $17 tolls to cross into New York through the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, a $23-a-day congestion fee would impose a $5,000-a-year burden on New Jerseyans who work or do business in Manhattan, as well as an added strain to New Jersey’s transit systems and infrastructure.
He said tolls could also be imposed on frequently traveled roads in Bergen and Hudson counties.
“This isn’t a one-way street, the traffic coming here is coming both way,” he said. “There are ways in which New Jersey should respond. Now that’s not what we want to do, I don’t like that but I also don’t like New Jerseyans being held up.”
Menendez said an environmental impact study blasted the environmental assessment released last week by the MTA.
“Bull. Bull… that’s what I think of their assessment,” Menendez said.
The MTA estimates that under the current timeline, the tolling program could begin as early as April 2024. But before that happens, the MTA, the city and state must figure out how much to charge drivers, including any discounts, exemptions and other allowances. There is discussion that the price would range between $9 to $23.
Supporters of the congestion pricing plan say it will mean less traffic, safer streets, cleaner air and better transit. They say money raised through the toll plan will help build more accessible subway stations and provide more mass transit.
A spokesperson for the MTA released the following statement:
“The idea of penalizing the MTA for taking steps invited and approved by the Federal government is slightly absurd.”
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