STATEN ISLAND, NY — It appears Staten Islanders aren’t the only ones opposed to New York City’s planned congestion pricing program.
New Jersey transportation officials are criticizing the city’s plan to charge drivers to enter Manhattan’s central business district, encouraging Garden State residents to oppose it at the MTA’s ongoing public hearings.
Those who visit the websites of New Jersey Turnpike Authority Where New Jersey E-ZPass Office are greeted with a damning description of the potential impacts of congestion pricing on New Jersey, followed by a call for residents to voice their opinions before the end of the current public comment period.
“The Central Business District (CBD) toll program, which would impose congestion pricing fees in excess of $23 to enter Manhattan south of 59th Street, could significantly increase transportation costs, overload our traffic systems transit and cause traffic congestion in North Jersey communities,” the alert reads.
“Give to the NY MTA your comments until September 9 [https://mta-nyc.custhelp.com/app/cbd_tolling]”, the review continues. “Join or listen to the MTA’s public hearings on August 27, 28, 29, 30, and 31. Learn more about mta.info/CBDTP.”
Lisa Daglian, Executive Director of the Standing Citizens Advisory Committee, said AMNY that the advisories resembled a “disinformation campaign”, calling the alerts “pure and simple alarmism”.
The alert says tolls would be charged “south of 59th Street,” when they should actually be charged south of 61st Street.
Further, it states that tolls would be “greater than $23”, although the seven toll scenarios described in the EA show that $23 would be the highest potential maximum toll rate for personal vehicles. Peak toll rates could be as low as $9.
Prior to the release of the environmental assessment, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he “loves” the idea of congestion pricingbut would work to ensure Garden State residents receive credit from the Port Authority’s bridges and tunnels that connect to New York to ensure its constituents don’t have to pay twice.
“I think I speak for all of my colleagues in New Jersey, just to add this, we love it. Conceptually, there is no way, no how, that will happen with double taxation of New Jersey commuters. Period,” he said at the time.
But to one monday independent press conferencesaid the governor due to the lack of viable transit alternatives in New Jersey, the program may not be implemented next year as planned by the MTA.
“Thanks to the inaction of administrations before us…we are unrealistic in a current position where you can easily take someone off the road, convince them with new tunnels built or new bus terminals built, that their alternative is compelling,” Murphy said.
“So maybe it’s a good idea, but it’s an idea whose time hasn’t come,” he continued.
Meanwhile, the congestion pricing notice listed on the New York E-ZPass website highlights the potential benefits of the program, stating that it will reduce traffic in New York and generate crucial funding for projects. transit, a stark difference from the language used in the neighboring state.
The alerts come as the MTA is in the midst of a series of public comment hearings, which began last Thursday and continued into Wednesday, to solicit comments on the recently released environmental assessment.
The full report outlines the expected impacts of implementing the nation’s first congestion pricing program and provides drivers with an in-depth look at how much they could be charged to get to Manhattan’s central business district.
The document highlights seven different toll scenarios, with toll rates ranging from $9 to $23 during peak times and $5 to $12 during night hours, depending on the scenario selected.
The highest toll rates would be implemented in scenarios that provide additional credits, caps and exemptions to certain vehicles.
The last two virtual public hearings to solicit comments on the document, accessible via the project websitewill take place on the following dates.
- Tuesday, August 30, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Wednesday, August 31, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Those interested in speaking at the meetings, which will be held virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, can do so by registering on the project websitewhich allows residents to learn more about the program, submit feedback and register for all virtual meetings.
Comments may also be submitted by email, mail, voice mail or fax.
At the end of the public comment period, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will issue either a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), allowing the program to proceed, or a Request for an Environmental Impact Statement ( EIS), which will require studies.
If the FHWA approves the project by issuing a FONSI, the program should be implemented within 310 days, with MTA officials saying in March that toll collection should begin by the end of 2023.
However, if the federal government requests an EIS, which Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/South Brooklyn) has been asking for in recent months, the project would need to be studied further, which would likely delay implementation in- beyond the stipulated time.
ABOUT CONGESTION PRICING
As a member of $175 billion state budget approved on April 1, 2019, the MTA’s Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA) was authorized to establish the Central Business District Business Tolling Program (CBDTP), which will charge travelers a variable fee to travel to Manhattan’s Central Business District , defined as any area south of 61st Street.
Congestion pricing refers to the use of electronic tolling to charge vehicles to enter certain areas during peak hours, which ideally results in reduced traffic congestion and increased revenue for projects transit-oriented.
Revenue generated from the program will be bonded and placed in a designated MTA “vault” to fund capital improvements to the city’s ailing transit system.
The program is expected to generate $1 billion a year, which will be used to secure $15 billion in bonds for repairs and improvements to the public transportation system.
The electronic toll system will operate similarly to the cashless toll system on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, where overhead sensors read drivers’ E-ZPass tags and administer the fee directly to their account.
In the case of non-E-ZPass drivers, aerial cameras would photograph their license plate and an invoice would be mailed directly to them.
Non-E-ZPass drivers may be subject to higher fees similar to the “Tolls by Mail” option which charges drivers higher toll rates on agency bridges and tunnels for those who do not have E-Z Pass.
The price increase would be justified by the administrative costs of processing and billing directly to the driver.
In October 2019, the MTA selected TransCore to design, build, operate, and maintain the toll infrastructure and equipment needed for the congestion pricing program.
The company is expected to install the majority of toll equipment on existing poles and mast arms “so as to have a minimal footprint and blend into existing streetscapes”.
Currently, emergency vehicles and those carrying disabled people are the only required exemptions from the program, with tax credits in place for residents living in the CBD and earning less than $60,000.
Drivers on FDR Drive, West Side Highway and the sections of the Battery Park Underpass and the Hugh Carey Tunnel that connect the two will not be subject to tolls unless exiting into the CBD.
Once the MTA completes its current phase of public outreach, the six-member Traffic Mobility Review Board will recommend final toll pricing to the TBTA, which will ultimately determine the prices of the tolls.