NEW JERSEY — Just feet from the Holland Tunnel, U.S. Congressmen Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Rob Menendez (NJ-8) Tuesday sounded the alarm on the negative environmental impacts of New York’s and the MTA’s proposed Congestion Tax.
On May 5, 2023, without conducting a full Environmental Impact Statement study, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) blindsided families across Jersey and New York by allowing the MTA to take the next step with their anti-environment, cash-grabbing $23-a-day Congestion Tax plan.
By the MTA’s own admission in their report, the Congestion Tax plan would increase traffic, and increase pollutants and mobile air toxins through 2045 in the Bronx, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Bergen County.
Gottheimer announced that he will be submitting a formal comment during the 30-day public review period demanding DOT and FHWA reconsider their anti-environment decision.
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 toxins like formaldehyde (pages 10–26 through 10-34).
- In the Bronx alone, it is reported that the diverted traffic will increase the soot from truck traffic by about 5%. The Bronx alone could face 700 more trucks every day, and 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.
Furthermore, according to the MTA’s own projections, if what they say is true and fewer cars go south of 60th Street, the Congestion Tax will leave a billion-dollar hole in lost revenue over the next decade at the Port Authority for their capital projects.
Port Authority Capital Projects that could be impacted by the MTA’s Congestion Tax include:
- Renovating GWB to fix suspension cables.
- Replacing the Lincoln Tunnel helix.
- Upgrading the PATH train.
- Repairs to Newark, La Guardia, and JFK airports.
- Renovating the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Governor Hochul recently acknowledged that the Congestion Tax is part of her “plan to rescue the MTA.” The MTA received $15 billion in federal COVID dollars and receives approximately $2 billion annually from the federal government. The MTA’s woeful mismanagement and lax enforcement of fare collection has led to a $2 billion budget deficit. Studies show they lost $500 million to fare skippers last year.
“Rather than listen to facts and families — like the 75% of those who testified against the Congestion Tax in public hearings — the U.S. Department of Transportation is choosing to ignore the facts that the MTA submitted to the federal government in their own reports about the negative environmental effects of congestion pricing,” said Gottheimer (NJ-5), Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Anti-Congestion Tax Caucus. “In their own report last year, the MTA admitted to the DOT that the Congestion Tax will not only cause more traffic here at the tunnel and at the Lincoln and GW Bridge, but that it will also increase air pollution affecting our children and families. The DOT’s response? Don’t bother submitting a more in-depth environmental impact study. A little odd for an Administration that claims to be committed to protecting the environment. Because of the Congestion Tax moving pollution elsewhere, the MTA is going to have to set up an asthma treatment program. If that’s not an admission of environmental guilt, I don’t know what is!”
“New York’s congestion pricing plan stands to push traffic and pollution to our communities while also shifting revenue from the Port Authority to the MTA,” said Menendez (NJ-8). “While New York is funding environmental mitigation in the Bronx – they refuse to do so for our communities. And instead of working with us to support the new Port Authority Bus Terminal, PATH service, and to expand the NYC Subway’s 7 line to New Jersey, New York is working to shift revenue to the MTA to the detriment of our bus and train commuters. I am committed to working with Rep. Gottheimer, our Congressional delegation, and Governor Murphy to fight this inequitable plan.”