New Jersey sues to block NYC traffic congestion plan

By David Shepardson

(Reuters) – New Jersey on Friday sued the Biden administration in an effort to block New York’s plan to impose vehicle tolls in Manhattan to tackle congestion and pay for public transit, saying it was unfair to residents of the neighboring state.

The city is aiming as early as next year to charge a daily toll of up to $23 on vehicles in midtown Manhattan between 60th Street in Midtown and Battery Park at the southern tip.

In his lawsuit in the United States District Court in Newark, New Jersey, the federal highway administration’s environmental review of the plan was inadequate. The body also ignored financial and environmental burdens on New Jersey residents, he said.

Tens of thousands of drivers commute between New Jersey and Manhattan for work.

New Jersey said it would suffer because some drivers would reroute to the state to avoid the toll and it would not receive money from New Yorkers entering New Jersey.

“New Jersey will bear much of the burden of this congestion pricing system — in terms of environmental, financial, and human impacts — but will receive none of its benefits,” the lawsuit said.

New York City, which has the most congested traffic of any US city, would become the first major US city to follow London, which implemented a similar charge in 2003.

In 2022, New York said the charge would reduce traffic, improve air quality and increase public transit use by 1% to 2%. The toll would generate $1 billion to $1.5 billion annually and support $15 billion in debt financing for transit improvements.

“As everyone in New Jersey knows, if you screw Jersey, buckle up. We’re not backing down,” New Jersey Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer said.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the plan is crucial to reducing congestion in New York City and said most New Jersey residents traveling to New York use public transportation and will benefit from better public transit. The Federal Highway Administration declined to comment.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Cynthia Osterman)

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