The Federal Highway Administration gave the green light to the MTA’s plan to toll drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street.

What You Need To Know

  • The Federal Highway Administration gave the MTA guidance it needs to move forward on a plan to toll drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street

  • Federal officials told the MTA it must conduct a less rigorous, and faster, environmental assessment of the proposal

  • MTA officials blamed the Trump administration for stalling on the congestion pricing plan, which first passed in Albany in 2019

The agency told the MTA on Tuesday that it can put the tolling plan through an environmental assessment, which is a less intense and streamlined study compared to a full review.

This environmental assessment will require the MTA to analyze traffic volumes and air quality impacts of the proposed tolling program.

The acting federal highway administrator called the proposed toll plan, an "important and precedent-setting project."

It is also a critical stream of money to the MTA’s $55 billion plan for repairs, upgrades to the city’s antiquated signal system, and large projects like the Second Avenue subway extension in Harlem.

The goal is to raise $1 billion a year from drivers. That will let the MTA raise $15 billion more off the new revenue stream.

"We're excited that we have an administration that may, we're hopeful, is going to let us move forward on Central Business District Tolling," Janno Lieber, the MTA's chief development officer, said at a panel talk before the news was announced.

Albany passed a congestion pricing proposal in 2019, and it was supposed to be in effect this year. However, MTA officials blamed the Trump administration for refusing to give guidance on how to move forward. There was new hope for the plan when the Biden administration took over this year.

Governor Cuomo, in a statement, said, "Congestion pricing is an internationally proven method to reduce traffic congestion, enhance the availability and reliability of public transportation and improve our air quality.”

The MTA does not have a new timeline for the project, but it had been working on a preliminary design for the tolling system.

In a statement, MTA Chairman Pat Foye said, "the MTA is ready to hit the ground running to implement the Central Business District Tolling Program."

A separate panel, created under the congestion pricing law, will determine how much the fee will be, and who, if anyone, will be exempt.

The FDR and West Side Highway will be exempt.