Members of Congress from two outer boroughs and New Jersey slammed the MTA’s congestion pricing plan on Monday — after the authority warned the new tolls could send hundreds of smog-emitting trucks from downtown Manhattan to asthma-plagued parts of the city’s outskirts and suburbs.
South Bronx Rep. Ritchie Torres, a past supporter of the tolls, said his borough felt “ambushed” by the agency’s prediction that the Cross-Bronx Expressway could see up to 704 new trucks per day under the tolling program.
“I’ve long been a principled supporter of congestion pricing,” Torres said. “Those of us who are proponents of congestion pricing in the Bronx, we feel blindsided and misled.”
“The cruel irony of congestion pricing is that it would lead to more congestion in the Bronx,” he added. “The Bronx is the most congested and polluted place, and the congestion plan would make it even more so.”
The MTA argued in its environmental review released last week that the additional traffic would not have an adverse impact on the surrounding community, despite the borough’s well-documented history of poor air quality and its associated health impacts.
Torres — who has endorsed “capping” the Cross-Bronx in a bid to cut down on pollution — called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to “modify the plan or to mitigate the environmental impact it would have on the Bronx.”
Meanwhile, Brooklyn and Staten Island GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) rallied Monday at the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel to slam the cash-strapped agency for soaking drivers for more money after receiving a $15 billion handout from the feds.
“It’s time we audited the MTA that keeps pouring the dollars we’ve sent them into a black hole,” said Gottheimer, whose district is in line to get up to 955 additional trucks churning up the I-95 corridor, according to agency calculations.
The MTA review evaluated seven different scenarios under varying toll prices and rules.
Only one scenario — which would charge trucks the same fee as regular cars — would add fewer than 100 trucks to the Cross-Bronx Expressway, according to its calculations.
Other scenarios would send anywhere from 170 to 704 additional trucks through the corridor.
The RFK Bridge, meanwhile, would be in line for as many as 4,000 additional trucks depending on the cost of tolls and number of discounts offered, the MTA said.
Transit officials have warned that more discounts and exemptions will require a higher toll for the MTA to meet its state-mandated revenue goals.
“We appreciate Congressman Torres’ feedback as the Traffic Mobility Review Board works toward a final plan that reduces traffic and pollution, with mitigation where traffic may be diverted outside the Central Business District,” MTA spokesman John McCarthy said in a statement.
“What’s clear is that congestion pricing will reduce congestion, improve air quality and dramatically upgrade mass transit for all New Yorkers, including those he represents.”