New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which plans to charge drivers entering midtown Manhattan, wants to join the federal government against New Jersey’s lawsuit that seeks to block the new fee, called congestion pricing.
(Bloomberg) — New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which plans to charge drivers entering midtown Manhattan, wants to join the federal government against New Jersey’s lawsuit that seeks to block the new fee, called congestion pricing.
The state-run MTA, the nation’s largest transit provider, filed late Friday a motion to intervene in the case and defend the new tolling program, according to court documents.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in July filed a lawsuit against the Federal Highway Administration and the US Department of Transportation, claiming the FHWA’s approval of the MTA’s environmental assessment failed to take into account the program’s effect on air quality in his state and that it would redirect traffic and encumber its crossings.
The MTA operates New York City’s subways, buses and commuter railroads. It is seeking to protect its interests in the dispute, namely that congestion pricing will help finance the modernization of a more than 100-year-old transit system and boost ridership.
“New Jersey’s short-sighted and self-serving attempt to delay or prevent the project’s implementation threatens not only the economic and environmental interests of the MTA and TBTA, but those of the entire region — including those of New Jersey’s own citizens,” lawyers for the MTA wrote in the motion, referring to MTA’s affiliate, the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority.
Congestion pricing is set to begin in May and will impact motorists entering Manhattan’s central business district south of 60th Street, with E-ZPass drivers paying as much as $23 during peak periods. The goal is to reduce traffic, improve air quality in the region and encourage people to use public transportation. MTA officials expect it to bring in $1 billion a year that it will borrow against to raise $15 billion to help fund its multi-year capital budget.
“This lawsuit is seeking to block one of the nation’s most progressive climate actions, and we will not allow it to derail critical investments that the region deserves,” John Lindsay, a spokesperson for New York Governor Kathy Hochul, said in a statement. “The MTA has moved to intervene alongside the US Department of Transportation to ensure its seat at the table and defeat this suit.”
At a June press conference after New Jersey filed the suit, US Senator Bob Menendez called the congestion pricing plan a “brazen money grab.”
Murphy wants to federal government to require the MTA to complete an environmental impact statement, which is a longer process than the environmental assessment that gained final FHWA approval in June.
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