New Jersey reacts to the delay of New York City's congestion pricing plan

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Thursday, June 6, 2024
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FORT LEE, New Jersey (WABC) -- When it comes to saving money, it's hard to find motorists in the Garden State upset with the decision to pause congestion pricing.

Many said they were planning to avoid Lower Manhattan after June 30, but now they can head below 60th Street without paying the $15 congestion toll for a little while longer.

Officials in New Jersey also applaud Governor Hochul's decision to indefinitely pause congestion pricing.

"After a five year fight, New York appears to have done right by hardworking Jersey families and backed off their outrageous Congestion Tax," U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) said.

Eyewitness News first broke the story about the delay, citing an official who said the implementation would not start on June 30 as originally planned.

Fort Lee, New Jersey is the gateway to the George Washington Bridge and officials joined a lawsuit to halt congestion pricing claiming it would cause more traffic and more pollution.

Mayor Mark Sokolich said on Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10 that delaying the plan is "a great step in the right direction."

In April, a federal judge in Newark heard oral arguments in the lawsuit, one of several seeking to stop the new $15 toll for passenger cars driving into the heart of Manhattan.

Under the now-delayed plan, vehicles driving south of 60th Street from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays would be charged but New Jersey's lawsuit said when the Federal Highway Administration signed off, it "failed to adequately consider the environment impacts" and "ignored the significant financial burden being placed on New Jerseyans and New Jersey's transportation system."

"We're not, in Fort Lee, trying to stop the MTA from operating," Sokolich said. "We're just trying to make sure there's fairness in the process.

The Mornings @ 10 team talks with Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich on congestion pricing being postponed.

Previously, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said the lawsuit is seeking a full federal impact study on the potential environmental effects of congestion pricing.

"You are not eliminating pollution, you are just displacing it from Manhattan to New Jersey," Murphy told reporters Tuesday. "And you're charging our commuters an exorbitant fee on top of that."

On Wednesday, he praised the decision by Gov. Hochul in a statement:

"I want to thank Governor Hochul for pausing the implementation of congestion pricing in Manhattan's Central Business District.

"Although we have had a difference of opinion with our colleagues in New York on congestion pricing implementation, we have always had a shared vision for growing our regional economy, investing in infrastructure, protecting our environment, and creating good-paying jobs on both sides of the Hudson River. We fully embrace the notion that the success of Manhattan is inextricably linked to the prosperity of the entire Tri-State Area.

"Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams have been strong, collaborative governing partners and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them for the benefit of all of our residents."

More than 400,000 New Jersey residents commute into Manhattan every day and Under the congestion pricing plan would pay millions of dollars to the MTA, meant to improve mass transit.

"The end result is that New Jersey will bear much of the burden of this congestion pricing scheme-in terms of environmental, financial, and human impacts-but receive none of its benefits," the state's lawsuit said.

The MTA has disputed the state's claims of lax reviews and objectionable tolls.

As part of the MTA's plan, parts of the Bronx would receive $35 million for mitigation. The plan does not specify a dollar amount set aside for New Jersey, but the agency says it is committing to mitigation where needed.

New Jersey was asking that congestion pricing switches stay off until another detailed study is done -- especially since the MTA expanded congestion pricing peak time by two hours and approved the higher $15 base rate after the first impact study was completed.


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