At long last, the Federal Highway Administration gave New York state the green light on Friday to proceed with its congestion pricing plan for the Manhattan Central Business District.
The agency issued a Letter of Legal Sufficiency to both the MTA and Governor Kathy Hochul on May 5 authorizing the state to move forward with its plan to create a tolling system for drivers to travel into and from areas of Manhattan generally below 60th Street. According to published reports, it effectively “starts the clock” on additional steps to implement the system, which could be up and running on or about April 2024.
Congestion pricing has been debated off and on for the better part of the last 20 years, since then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg floated the idea as a way to ease traffic in the heart of Manhattan while also generating a new revenue source for public transit improvements. Along the way, the plan proved controversial, especially among outer-borough residents and suburbanites who see the plan as a tax on their driving privileges, and a substantial income hit.