Sen. Menendez announces bill that would prevent congestion pricing in NYC
New Jersey officials are fighting back against New York’s congestion pricing plans.
Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is pushing a new bill that could potentially stop the effort from becoming a reality. He detailed the bill Monday at the George Washington Bridge.
Menendez called congestion pricing a shakedown of all New Jersey commuters who cross the Hudson River into New York City. He is now pushing a bill that would take away New York state’s federal highway funds if congestion pricing goes through.
“You know the MTA is not going our way, so the bottom line is this is all about a money grab for the MTA’s budget,” Menendez said.
Menendez, along with other advocates, say that if the MTA wants to raise revenue, they should raise rates for subway and bus riders - not drivers. He says congestion pricing is a double tax when one considers commuters pay a $17 toll to get into the city, plus what could be $23 in a congestion pricing fee. Officials say this would be an extra $5,000 a year in fees.
RELATED: Gov. Phil Murphy launches new advertisement campaign pushing back against congestion pricing
"New York would lose out on a significant portion of federal funding for two programs, the National Highway Performance Program and the Surface Transportation Block Grant,” Menendez said.
Others concerned about the effects on small businesses that need to travel into the city are also on board with the senator’s plan.
"For this process to have taken place without New Jersey having a seat at the table slaps us in the face for any camaraderie, any collaboration, any partnership moving forward in the future,” said Ron Cimoncini, of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce.
MTA officials have long said congestion pricing will reduce traffic and pollution.
Menendez said he's sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg asking for a full report on the impact this would have on New Jersey residents.
This move by the senator comes after the Federal Highway Authority approved the congestion pricing plan. The plan is officially under a 30-day public review period.
A spokesperson for the MTA wrote in a statement, “New York’s congestion pricing program has been developed in full compliance with the Federal government’s own Value Pricing Pilot Program and every applicable federal rule and regulation. The idea of penalizing the MTA for taking steps invited and approved by the Federal government is slightly absurd.”