NYC pushes ahead with massive toll hike plan on NJ commuters
The simmering border war between New Jersey and New York City over the city's congestion pricing plan is threatening to explode with Gov. Phil Murphy threatening to use a "nuclear option" if Garden State commuters are not excluded from the massive toll hikes.
New York's plan to tack on additional tolls for those entering the most congested parts of the city could cost New Jersey commuters up to an extra $175 a week, on top of the tolls already being paid.
It currently costs up to $16 to use the Port Authority bridges or tunnels into Manhattan. The plan is to tack on another $9 to $35 to enter the central business district. New York City hopes to raise $1 billion to pay for mass transit improvements.
New Jersey officials have been opposed to the idea of the double tax since it was first floated almost two years ago, but as public hearings get underway by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority over congestion pricing, the rhetoric has intensified. The hearings are one of the final stages before the plan is implemented, although if approved, it won't take effect for another 16 months.
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-NJ, is leading the New Jersey congressional delegation in opposition. He has introduced bipartisan legislation that would block federal funding for MTA projects if the New Jersey crossings into Manhattan are not exempt from the double tax.
However, it is Murphy who may hold the biggest hammer to beat back the increases. The Port Authority is a bi-state agency whose governance is split between New Jersey and New York. As such, little can be done without representatives from both state's agreeing.
On Thursday, Murphy talked about his power at the Port Authority and how he might use it to shield New Jersey commuters from congestion pricing. During a candidates' forum in Morris County, Murphy said he could veto the minutes of any or all Port Authority meetings. That would essentially freeze all PA operations, including the budget process.
It would be an extreme move, to be sure, but Murphy seemed intent on the course if nothing can be worked out with New York City.
Neither New York Gov. Kathy Hochul nor NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio responded specifically to Murphy's threat. Hochul reaffirmed her commitment to the congestion pricing plan, saying they would continue to work with stakeholders to "implement congestion pricing effectively and efficiently." DiBlasio called Murphy "a very reasonable person," and expressed confidence they could find a solution.
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