OAN’s Roy Francis
7:41 AM – Saturday, July 22, 2023
The Biden administration has been sued by the state of New Jersey over its approval of New York City’s plan to reduce traffic congestion in the city.
On Friday, Governor Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) announced that his administration has filed the lawsuit against the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
In May, the FHWA had approved a plan to charge commuters a fee to enter Manhattan in order to reduce traffic congestion, and improve air quality in the city. The fee would differ depending on the times of day.
The fees that are being discussed in the plan are $9 to $23 at peak hours, $7 to $17 at off-peak hours, and $5 to $12 during overnight hours. The toll roads will reportedly cover “much” of Manhattan’s roads and the tolls will be collected though E-ZPass. For those who do not have E-ZPass, a bill will be mailed to the home of the registered vehicle.
The plan will add those fees on top of the always hefty tolls that commuters pay when they use many of the bridges and tunnels that connect commuters across the Hudson, East, and Harlem rivers.
Murphy said that the agency’s approval of the plan in June was “misguided” and violates the National Environmental Policy Act. The governor also said that he wants a more “comprehensive” environmental study conducted on the plan.
“After refusing to conduct a full environmental review of the MTA’s poorly designed tolling program, the FHWA has unlawfully fast-tracked the agency’s attempt to line its own coffers at the expense of New Jersey families,” Murphy said Friday in a statement. “The costs of standing idly by while the MTA uses New Jersey residents to help balance its budget sheets are more than economic.”
The governor went to argue that New Jersey will now be receiving the negative impacts of the plan without receiving any benefits that had been listed.
“At the MTA’s own admission, its tolling program would divert traffic and shift pollution to many vulnerable New Jersey communities, impacting air quality while offering nothing to mitigate such considerable harm,” the governor argued. “Today we stand as a unified front against this reckless scheme and reaffirm our commitment to combat the unjust taxation of our hardworking residents by other states.”
Officials in New York argued that the new plan is meant to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and raise money for the public transit system in New York. However, the governor pushed back saying that the commuters will find other means of transportation into the city to avoid paying the fees, which will result in more traffic and air pollution.
“(The FHA) finding that the MTA congestion pricing program will not have any significant impacts is an error,” Murphy, said, adding that the tolls are “anti-environmental, anti-commuter, and anti-business.”
The new plan is expected to generate around $1 billion yearly, city officials claimed that those funds will be used to improve the subway, bus and commuter systems in the systems.
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