NEW JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, attorney Bruce Nagel, and state and local officials on Wednesday announced a new class action lawsuit that has been filed to put a stop to New York and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) anti-environment, anti-commuter, and anti-business $23-a-day-Congestion Tax.
Plaintiffs include Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich and Richard Galler, a Fort Lee resident and commuter who suffers from asthma.
The class action lawsuit, filed against the MTA, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Authority, Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, and Traffic Mobility Review Board, argues that the Congestion Tax will result in more truck and car traffic near the George Washington bridge, and in nearby communities, because drivers will avoid the Congestion Tax at the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels.
This will increase toxic air pollution in New Jersey.
The new class action lawsuit seeks:
- An immediate stop to the Congestion Tax.
- A full and proper environmental study from the Department of Transportation that includes the impact on Jersey.
- If the court does not stop the Congestion Tax, New York must provide funding for a medical monitoring program to evaluate and treat respiratory distress and asthma resulting from the Congestion Tax.
New York and the MTA admit in their reporting that the Congestion Tax will hurt the environment and increase air pollution:
- More cars and trucks will be diverted to Northern New Jersey and the outer boroughs just outside of the tolling zone — hurting lower income families.
- There will be increases in traffic, pollutants, and mobile air toxins through 2045 in the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Bergen County (pages 10-21, 10-37, and 10-40).
- There will be increases in particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide in Bergen County, as well as carcinogens like formaldehyde (pages 10–26 through 10-34).
- It is reported that Bergen County could face countless more trucks to Fort Lee.
- The MTA is prepared to spend $130 million from tolling to try to mitigate the Congestion Tax’s negative environmental impacts on families in the Bronx and parts of the outer boroughs. However, New Jersey will receive no funding as a part of the MTA’s plan.
- The MTA’s proposed solutions include installing new air filtration units near schools, more vegetation, and spending $25 million on an asthma treatment program due to the Congestion Tax — an admission of environmental guilt. New Jersey will receive no funding as a part of the MTA’s plan.
“Think about everyone you know, including children with asthma and grandparents with other breathing and health problems — they will all suffer because of New York’s cash-grabbing $23/day Congestion Tax. Our families will be lining up at the doctors’ offices, while the MTA lines their pockets with our dollars,” Gottheimer said. “The goal of the lawsuit is to stop the Congestion Tax plan in its tracks. Force the Department of Transportation to conduct a full, proper environmental study. And if that fails, and the MTA continues to hang up E-Z Pass sensors and cameras, New York must provide health care for all of our families who develop breathing and other health issues from their cancer-causing Congestion Tax. You’d think they’d be worried about our children. Instead, New York is moving ahead and spreading their hush money to buy off the Bronx and elsewhere because they know what they are doing is wrong. But hey, they need to cash.”
“We all believe that congestion pricing is going to add to the traffic in Fort Lee and will add to pollution. My doctor explained to me that when air pollution is increased, it is like adding a cigarette to your day,” said plaintiff Richard Galler who suffers from asthma.
“Because of this initiative, by their own admission, we’re hearing that we run the risk of an additional twenty percent traffic at this bridge and with that comes pollutants, filth, and dirt. It impacts everybody in my borough and the region. There is a reason why we’re all here today. There is a gentleman that put us all together — the lawyers, the support, the public support — it’s a gentleman that has had more of an impact on the Borough of Fort Lee in the last couple years than anyone else that I can possibly remember in my sixteen years of serving. I introduce with great pride, privilege, and pleasure our Congressman Josh Gottheimer that made this all possible and on behalf of Fort Lee we want to extend our warmest thanks,” said Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.
“This congestion pricing will wreak havoc on the citizens of New Jersey and we will do everything we can to legally stop it,” said Attorney Bruce Nagel, representing Mayor Mark Sokolich and Richard Galler.
Gottheimer was joined in Fort Lee by Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, attorney Bruce Nagel, Senator Gordon Johnson, Assembly Members Lisa Swain, Chris Tully, and Shama Haider, Bergen County Commissioners Dr. Joan Voss and Rafael Marte, and Fort Lee Councilmembers Ila Kasofsky and Bryan Drumgoole.