The mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., is suing the MTA, the federal government, and the New York board charged with setting congestion pricing tolls, arguing that the plan to charge drivers entering lower Manhattan will increase pollution in the north Jersey town.
The suit was filed jointly Wednesday by Mayor Mark Sokolich and Fort Lee resident Richard Galler in New Jersey federal court, and seeks to establish a class of plaintiffs including inconvenienced commuters and Garden State residents suffering from asthma.
The congestion pricing plan, set to go into effect by May 2024, will charge motorists a yet-to-be-determined amount for driving south of 60th St. in Manhattan.
The result, Sokolich argued in the suit, will be an increase in traffic over the George Washington Bridge — which connects to New Jersey at Fort Lee — as drivers try to avoid the tolls.
The Federal Highway Administration “failed to consider the safety and well-being of neighboring states greatly impacted by the congestion pricing scheme” in failing to conduct a more thorough environmental review, the suit reads.
Wednesday’s filing is the second attempt by Jersey officials to halt congestion pricing.
The administration of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy sued the federal Transportation Department in July, also claiming the feds failed to conduct a “comprehensive” and “complete” environmental review before green-lighting the plan.
That case, which now also involves the MTA, is still working its way through the federal courthouse in Newark.
MTA officials did not immediately comment on Wednesday’s filing.
The transit agency’s own environmental assessment released earlier this year acknowledged that the congestion pricing plan could cause an increase in truck traffic and pollution in parts of the Bronx, upper Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey — including Fort Lee.
The MTA has earmarked roughly $155 million in pollution mitigation efforts, but the bulk of those plans address effects in New York.
“The [MTA and New York transportation agencies] have indicated that they will fund neighborhood asthma center in the Bronx, and monitor [airborne particulates] to determine whether changes in air pollution are occurring in New York, expand clean trucks program and off-hours delivery program, replace diesel burning trucks and coordinate to expand electric truck charging infrastructure, as well as install or upgrade air filtration in New York school,” the suit reads.
“No such promise has been made to alleviate the suffering in New Jersey that will result from instituting [congestion pricing].”
The plaintiffs are seeking a review of the federal government’s approval process, as well as the creation of a remediation fund for the Garden State, given what the suit calls “the deleterious health impact [of congestion pricing] to New Jersey residents living in the vicinity of the George Washington Bridge and feeder roads.”