Staten Island to join NJ in filing lawsuit against congestion pricing

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Monday, July 24, 2023
Staten Island to join NJ in congestion pricing lawsuit
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The Staten Island borough president says the congestion pricing plan will be a lose-lose situation for his residents. Tom Negovan has details.

STATEN ISLAND (WABC) -- Staten Island will join New Jersey in filing a lawsuit against the proposed controversial congestion pricing plan.

Many Staten Islanders who commute to Manhattan take the ferry, but those who can't could end up paying even more to get into Manhattan below 60th Street when the congestion pricing plan kicks in.

Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella, like New Jersey officials, is pointing to the environmental studies on the plan, saying it will hurt the wallets and the environment of Staten Islanders.

"To sit here and then say to the people on Staten Island that you're gonna pay more and your air quality is going to be worse, doesn't make any sense," Fossella says.

Fossella says the tolling plan, aimed at reducing traffic in Manhattan's central business district and raising $15 billion for the MTA, will send more traffic into his borough to get around it all. Also like New Jersey officials, Fossella is now planning to sue to put the brakes on congestion pricing entirely.

"We begin today to lay the foundation for the lawsuit," Fossella says.

Last week, the traffic mobility review board began laying the foundation for the tolling system. The board will decide who pays what for congestion pricing.

New Jersey officials promptly announced their lawsuit, which the MTA called 'baseless.'

Fossella argues congestion pricing would add a third toll for Staten Islanders who have to get over the Verrazano and through the Battery Tunnel.

"Many of them have no choice because we don't have the mass transit infrastructure that the other boroughs have. Those were conscious decisions by the MTA to shortchange and keep Staten Island out of it," he said.

The MTA is pointing to its response to New Jersey's threatened lawsuit saying, "Contrary to any claim that there was insufficient study, the environmental assessment actually covered every conceivable potential traffic, air quality, social and economic effect, and also reviewed and responded to more than 80,000 comments and submissions."

Fossella and the MTA seem to be at odds over what the assessment actually said. Also, unlike New Jersey, Fossella says his lawsuit would not be against the Federal Highway Administration, but will name the MTA itself, and he is looking to build a coalition.

Unless the lawsuit is successful in stopping the plan, the best bet for Staten Island drivers is to hope for an exemption or discount on the toll.

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