New Jersey congressman declares war on NYC's congestion pricing plan

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Friday, December 9, 2022
NJ congressman declares war on NYC congestion pricing plan
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New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer will announce a new bill aimed at combatting the proposed $23 tax to drive into Midtown Manhattan. Mike Marza has the story.

TEANECK, New Jersey (WABC) -- One of the most outspoken critics of bringing congestion pricing to New York City is vowing to introduce new legislation against the plan.

New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer says if the proposed $23 tax to drive into Midtown Manhattan happens, he will introduce a bill to stop federal dollars in the upcoming government funding package from going to the MTA.

He said he will make sure "they will lose their money."

At a news conference Friday, Gottheimer also called MTA Chairman and CEO Janno Lieber the "Scrooge" of Christmas.

He said the congestion pricing plan crushes the Christmas spirit and would make life more expensive for everyday commuters from New Jersey.

"And it's not just those here in Jersey who are against the MTA's congestion tax," Gottheimer said. "There's been a huge outcry from New York City, from residents there, from small businesses, from taxi drivers, from those who get whacked by the drive south of 60th Street."

The congestion pricing plan calls for tolling drivers between $9 and $23 a day to drive south of 60th Street.

For his part, Lieber brushed off Gottheimer's "Scrooge" comment Friday, saying, "I don't respond to that kind of rhetoric."

At an event announcing the MTA's Metro-North expansion in the Bronx, Lieber also noted the irony of media reporting another Gridlock Alert Day, at the same time as House members called for an investigation into the MTA.

"Listen to the radio, and it says 'Gridlock alert!' every two seconds. 'Gridlock alert! Gridlock alert!'" said Lieber. "And then they cut to a politician from New Jersey who says, 'Let's take more cars and bring them to the middle of Midtown.' That doesn't make sense."

The plan is expected to take effect in 2024, following more reviews.

NY Governor Kathy Hochul says it's happening.

"We anticipate opposition. It's not surprising. Change is hard," she said at the Metro-North event. "But we are changing something radical here, and that is the trajectory our planet is on. We are doing our part here in the state of New York, and people in New Jersey will benefit from what we are doing in New York when we reduce the emissions that are creating an environmental disaster for us going forward - but also the clogging of our streets."

The MTA says it's in trouble and doesn't have enough money, with ridership still below pre-pandemic levels and the federal stimulus money running out.

But opponents, including Gottheimer, question what the MTA did with the federal funds.

"They get about $2 billion every year from the federal government," he said. "What did they do with all these billions?"

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