March 30, 2021 By Allie Griffin
New York City’s long-delayed plan to charge drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street is a step closer to becoming a reality.
The Biden administration notified city and state officials Tuesday that they can move forward in conducting an environmental review of the congestion pricing plan– which is required before the proposal can go into effect.
The Federal Highway Administration advised local officials that they could undertake an “environmental assessment” of the plan as opposed to a longer “environmental impact statement.”
An environmental assessment generally requires less time to complete and is less rigorous than an environmental impact statement, unless significant impacts are identified.
The plan to toll drivers who enter Manhattan below 60th Street was set to go in effect at the start of the year, but was delayed by the Trump administration, MTA officials said.
The Trump administration didn’t provide any details as to how the state should conduct the environmental review process, which blocked it from moving forward with the plan.
The decision of Biden’s FHWA to allow the state to perform a simpler environmental assessment is a win for supporters of congestion pricing.
The congestion pricing plan could generate $15 billion over four years for the MTA for much-needed capital improvements. The program would also help reduce traffic congestion in busy sections of Manhattan, improve air quality and boost public transit ridership.
The MTA hasn’t established a price range yet for congestion pricing, although past proposals have recommended charging about $12 for cars and $25 for trucks. The prices would vary based on the time of travel.
If implemented, the state’s congestion pricing plan would be the country’s first of its kind.