News12: ‘Nothing more than a cash grab’: NJ lawmakers respond to MTA’s congestion pricing plan approval

Jun 27, 2023
In the News

By: Lanette Espy and Jim Murdoch

Watch News12 here: ‘Nothing more than a cash grab’: NJ lawmakers respond to MTA’s congestion pricing plan approval

New Jersey commuters can soon pay thousands of dollars more a year to go to work in Midtown and Lower Manhattan.

The Federal Highway Administration cleared the way for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to move forward with the congestion pricing plan. The plan would toll drivers entering Manhattan south of 60th Street.

The new tolls are expected to generate another $1 billion yearly, which would be used to finance borrowing to upgrade the subway, bus and commuter rail systems operated by the MTA. But critics say the congestion pricing will only benefit the MTA and hurt low-income commuters.

The program could begin as soon as the spring of 2024, bringing New York City into line with places like London, Singapore, and Stockholm that have implemented similar tolling programs for highly congested business districts.

“With the green light from the federal government, we look forward to moving ahead with the implementation of this program,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement.

RELATED: New Jersey lawmakers voice concern over Transportation Department advancing Congestion Pricing plan

People headed into Manhattan already pay big tolls to use many of the bridges and tunnels connecting across the Hudson, East and Harlem Rivers. The special tolls for the southern half of Manhattan would come on top of those existing charges.

Adding an extra toll anywhere from $9 to $23 is not sitting well with anyone on the New Jersey side.

According to a joint statement from Rep. Bill Pascrell, Josh Gottheimer and Sen. Bob Menendez, the plan would increase air pollution through the year 2045 and not reduce it. 

The statement said, “This is nothing more than a cash grab to fund the MTA…. We will not stop fighting until we defeat this plan and ensure New York is not allowed to balance its budget on the backs of hard-working New Jersey families. That’s a Jersey promise.”

Gov. Phil Murphy’s office said Monday night that the state has hired attorneys to fight the congestion pricing plan in court.

Congestion pricing could take effect as soon as next spring.

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