NEW YORK — MTA Chair Janno Lieber appeared in a New Jersey courtroom Monday to refute charges in a suit filed by Gov. Phil Murphy alleging the feds greenlit congestion pricing without considering the.
It was supposed to be a settlement conference, but before he left for New Jersey, Lieber lobbed a hand grenade at Murphy.
Lieber questioned Murphy’s commitment to fix climate change by saying the governor’s actions will cause more pollution while congestion pricing will reduce it.
“New Jersey is electing to deal with their congestion problem which they recognize by widening the turnpike, by pumping more cars into the Holland Tunnel,” said Lieber.
Oh the irony. MTA officials say Murphy is sort of two-faced for arguing congestion pricing is bad for the environment while creating more pollution by widening the turnpike.
It’s just the latest salvo on.
Lieber took the PATH train to New Jersey for what was billed as a settlement conference in suits filed by New Jersey officials to stop the MTA’s plan.
“There’s an urgency because outside on the street right in front of us there’s a traffic jam every day and that costs New Yorkers money. It even hurts the people who drive from New Jersey because they spend time in traffic,” said Lieber.
There’s another urgency. The MTA has already started erecting the license plate readers for congestion pricing, which will charge a fee for drivers entering the Manhattan Central Business District below 60th Street.
The MTA wants to start charging the fee in the spring.
“We’re confident. Again, the 4,000-page environmental review that was done over a two-year period and which responded to 70,000 public comments is the most thorough environmental assessment ever done, and we’re confident we will prevail. But their goal is to delay congestion pricing,” said Lieber.
New Jersey officials, like Rep. Josh Gottheimer, have made it clear that they want the MTA to give them money.
“We know that the MTA has already agreed to put money into the outer boroughs. They’re giving, I believe, the Bronx $130 million for asthma remediation and environmental issues,” said Gottheimer.
“We’re investing in the MTA. We are investing in our New Jersey riders because 40% of New Jersey commuters actually end up on MTA subways and buses and commuter rails. So when we make the system better, they are beneficiaries,” said Lieber.
So far, the MTA is moving full steam ahead on congestion pricing. The Mobility Review Panel is expected to unveil the fee structure sometime in November.
However, there is worry that the suit could push back the MTA’s spring start date.
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