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New Jersey Gov Asks Biden to Block NYC's Congestion Pricing

Phil Murphy wants the president to require an environmental impact statement for the city's traffic program, which would take much longer than the environmental assessment process currently underway.

(TNS) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that he’s taken his effort to sink New York’s congestion pricing plan all the way to President Biden’s ear.

Murphy told reporters that he spoke with the president last week, and asked that the federal government put up an aggressive roadblock to the congestion pricing plan, which aims to toll motorists who drive in Manhattan south of 60th St. and use the funds to pay for upgrades and fixes to New York City’s mass transit systems.

The Garden State governor said he asked Biden to require an environmental impact statement for the program, which would take much longer than the than the environmental assessment process the MTA is currently undergoing.

“We will not relent,” said Murphy.

“It gets all parties at the table,” he said of the environmental impact statement. “It does it in a comprehensive, smart, responsible way.”

Murphy’s office declined to specify exactly when he spoke with Biden on the subject. He and Biden are scheduled to appear together at a fundraiser in Middletown, N.J. on Thursday.

MTA officials have for months griped the Federal Highway Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, has already required a more intensive environmental assessment for the program than is usually mandated by Washington regulators.

“The Biden administration gave us direction on what kind of environmental process they want us to follow,” MTA chairman Janno Lieber said during a news conference last month.

“We have done that to a tee. I’m confident that USDOT is not going to suddenly reverse all of its decisions and go into a direction that would cause delay to this very pro-climate change initiative.”

New York officials expect a final response from the feds on the program in December and hope to launch the tolls in early 2024.

Murphy and other New Jersey elected officials have griped that the planned tolls are a “double tax” on Garden State commuters who travel to Manhattan by car.

And Murphy on Wednesday repeated a grievance he’s aired for months: NJ Transit cannot handle an influx of drivers switching to trains because his predecessor, Chris Christie, nixed a plan to build two new rail tunnels beneath the Hudson River.

Murphy’s assertion comes as NJ Transit ridership remains down roughly 35% from pre-pandemic levels. The plan to build two new rail tunnels between New York and New Jersey has been resurrected in recent years, and Gov. Hochul has agreed New York will cover a quarter of the cost.

In a sign of the escalating fight between the two states, bills were introduced in New York’s Assembly and Senate last month that would charge a $50 fee on vehicles from states whose motor vehicle departments refuse to share license plate data with New York agencies that use cameras to enforce tolls.

The New York bills counter a proposal in New Jersey that would bar the Garden State DMV from sharing license plate information with New York.

©2022 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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