Congestion pricing has been part of the conversation for the future of Midtown and Lower Manhattan for more than a decade.
The plan, approved by the state in 2019, would charge a fee to drivers who enter Manhattan below 60th Street, with the goal of reducing traffic and creating a revenue stream dedicated to improving mass transit.
“Congestion pricing is a tolling scheme that will reduce congestion, pollution, in Midtown Manhattan. By definition, in at least Midtown Manhattan, it has a positive environmental impact,” Gersh Kuntzman, editor-in-chief of Streetsblog, said on “Mornings On 1.”
But congestion pricing always seems to be held up in some stage of approval.
Until 2020, it was the National Highway Administration under former President Donald Trump.
Now, Mayor Bill de Blasio has begun to blame the MTA for the holdup.
In his press briefing Tuesday, the mayor said he doesn’t buy the 16-month timeline the authority said it needed to conduct its environmental review on congestion pricing.
"Do I buy that timeline? No,” said de Blasio. “I'd like to meet the person who thinks 16 months is expedited. That's ridiculous. I will say, some part of this is an issue with the state and the MTA. I also want to see what's going on, on the federal side. Everyone's got to go faster. I mean, this is crazy."
The MTA shot right back.
"We’re mystified by the mayor’s statement,” said Ken Lovett, an MTA senior advisor. "The planned 16-month schedule was the result of months and months of negotiations between the USDOT and MTA, the state Department of Transportation and the mayor’s own city DOT."
Kuntzman, a backer of congestion pricing, defended the mayor’s question of the timeline.
“The mayor’s frustration is, why would it take 16 months — and we’re already well into this process — 16 more months, to study the environmental impact of a scheme that will reduce traffic. It’s absurd,” Kuntzman told NY1.
“He’s expressing the frustration that all of us have with the slow pace that the MTA and the federal government have been taking in approving congestion pricing,” Kuntzman said.