‘Nothing more than a shakedown’: Dem gov slaps Biden admin with lawsuit over traffic reduction plan

The Biden administration’s approval of a radical plan to financially penalize drivers entering Manhattan in an effort to reduce traffic congestion has been met with fierce opposition from members of the president’s own party who blasted the “shakedown” and have taken the matter to the courts.

On Friday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that the state has filed a federal lawsuit to block the federal government’s “decision to rubber-stamp” the controversial New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) plan which could hit drivers with a peak hour fee of up to $23, and up to $12 during nighttime, a scheme that is expected to raise billions of dollars for mass transit while disincentivizing driving to cut down on emissions.

The lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey “argues that the USDOT and the FHWA violated the National Environmental Protection Act, which requires a full environmental impact review for projects of this projected impact and scope, as well as the Clean Air Act,” according to a statement released by Gov. Murphy’s office.

“We are suing to block New York’s ill-conceived congestion pricing plan,” Murphy said at a news conference announcing the move to prevent the fee –  which was approved by the regime in May – from going into effect.

“After refusing to conduct a full environmental review of the MTA’s poorly designed tolling program, the FHWA has unlawfully fast-tracked the agency’s attempt to line its own coffers at the expense of New Jersey families,” Murphy said in the statement.

“The costs of standing idly by while the MTA uses New Jersey residents to help balance its budget sheets are more than economic. At the MTA’s own admission, its tolling program would divert traffic and shift pollution to many vulnerable New Jersey communities, impacting air quality while offering nothing to mitigate such considerable harm. Today we stand as a unified front against this reckless scheme and reaffirm our commitment to combat the unjust taxation of our hardworking residents by other states,” he added.

(Video: YouTube/Voice of America)

Other Garden State Democrats also expressed outrage over NYC’s highway robbery of New Jersey drivers. Democrat Senator Bob Menendez also blasted Gotham’s federally sanctioned money grab.

“As the senior senator of New Jersey, I have made it abundantly clear that it’s unacceptable for New York to try balancing its budget on the backs of New Jersey commuters. Their proposed congestion tax scheme is nothing more than a shakedown and must be defeated,” he said.

“If the MTA gets its way, trucks will be backed up here in North Jersey, billowing cancer-causing pollution into the lungs of our children. I want to thank our Governor for punching back at a state that decided to use Jersey as their piggy bank to solve their years of criminal mismanagement at the MTA,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).  “I don’t know how the MTA Chairman looks at himself in the mirror.”

“The Garden State is not New York’s piggy bank. We are not the MTA’s ATM,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) said. “New Jersey has been our region’s pack mule for a long time. Enough is enough. Governor Murphy’s leadership is indispensable. New Jersey’s state and federal leaders are united in telling New York their scheme is more garbage than the old Staten Island landfill. I look forward to using every legal tool to give Garden Staters a fair shake.”

“We have a couple of hundred thousand commuters going into Manhattan every day. We’re not some sort of flyspeck here,” Governor Murphy said in an interview with talk radio host John Catsimatidis.

“We’re not going to take it,” he said of the gouging, adding “we will not relent.”

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Chris Donaldson

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