TRANSPORTATION

Congressmen want cooperation over NY’s congestion pricing

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Jersey tough talk from Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Bill Pascrell from near the George Washington Bridge.

“We will not back down from a fight to protect New Jersey families either,” Pascrell said.

They issued a message to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Empire State lawmakers. They approved the first congestion pricing plan in America for traffic below 60th Street in Manhattan — tolls to limit traffic, promote cleaner air and raise money for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or MTA, starting in 2021. A lot of details are still to come, but right now congestion pricing could exempt traffic on the West Side Highway and the FDR and give credits to Lincoln and Holland Tunnel drivers. But it could mean paying a double-digit toll to cross the George Washington Bridge, and then an $8 to $12 toll to drive below 60th Street, including the Theater District where there are some of the city’s best restaurants and most-visited tourist attractions.

“Congestion pricing is a raw deal for New Jersey commuters as it stands today,” Pascrell said.

Gottheimer says congestion pricing could cost New Jersey commuters an extra $3,000 a year.

“That’s outrageous double taxation, and it’s at its finest. That’s absurd on all fronts,” Gottheimer said.

Gottheimer says he has Republican support, and he hopes red-state, anti-tax support for a bill to force New York to give bridge and tunnel drivers exemptions to congestion pricing.

“The Anti-Congestion Tax Act, or as I also like to call it the Manhattan Moocher Prevention Act,” Gottheimer said.

It would freeze federal funding for MTA projects. In the 80s, Congress approved withholding money from New York, forcing it to get rid of a toll on the Verrazzano Bridge.

Cuomo says the MTA will do a pricing study that could include credits for electronic tolling across the GWB and then into the Central Business District. Gov. Phil Murphy has said he’s expressed his concerns to New York.

“Double tolling those commuters would make this plan neither fair nor equitable,” Murphy said on April 4.

How would former Gov. Chris Christie have handled it?

“I would have been on the phone with Gov. Cuomo when they were negotiating congestion pricing to make sure New Jersey’s concerns were acknowledged,” Christie said.

Gottheimer and Pascrell say they’re looking for New York’s cooperation on the issue. They’re looking for peace, and a piece of the pie if New York goes ahead with congestion pricing.