New Jersey senators seek to delay New York City congestion pricing plan

Traffic travels on First Avenue in Manhattan

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New Jersey's two Democratic senators and the state's governor said on Monday they are seeking to halt a plan by New York City to adopt a congestion pricing plan in Manhattan, which would be the country's first.

Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker urged U.S. Transportation (USDOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg not to grant final approval to environmental reviews needed to implement the congestion pricing plan after his department gave a key approval on May 5.

Menendez said separately that he is introducing legislation this week that would cut 50% of New York state federal highway grant funding if the plan moves ahead.

The plan "would shift New York’s financial and environmental burdens onto New Jersey families and institutions," the senators wrote.

Governor Phil Murphy said he would work "to halt implementation of this misguided tolling plan" and said the state is assessing legal options.

Buttigieg's office did not immediately comment.

Earlier this month, USDOT approved release of the final environmental assessment for New York's congestion pricing plan for public review.

New York said drivers could face a traffic congestion charge of up to $23 a day. A study projected would reduce the number of cars entering Manhattan by 15% to 20%.

The city wants to charge a daily variable toll for vehicles entering or remaining within the central business district, defined as between 60th Street in midtown Manhattan and Battery Park on Manhattan's southern tip.

After the public review expires June 12, USDOT's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will make its final decision. Following entry into a tolling agreement, tolling could begin up to 310 days later, the city said on Friday.

New York, which has the most congested U.S. traffic, would become the first major city in the country to follow London, which began a similar charge in 2003.

New York lawmakers approved the plan in 2019 to provide funding to improve mass transit by using tolls to manage traffic in central Manhattan and was originally projected to start in 2021. The federal government under President Donald Trump did not take any action.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy)