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Why congestion pricing might be delayed

Why congestion pricing might be delayed
02/18/2020 05:01 AM EST

In Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s offices last April, Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Patrick Foye, New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and several aides had an urgent question for Chao’s deputies — an answer that could determine the fate of one of New York's most ambitious transportation projects in decades.

Ten months later, that answer still hasn’t arrived.

In pursuit of federal approval for the nation’s first congestion pricing scheme, the one officials suggested would launch in January 2021, the question was this: Should New York State and New York City conduct a quick “environmental assessment” or a full scale “environmental impact statement,” a process that could take years?

Federal officials didn’t provide a definitive answer in that meeting, nor have they since.

That haziness puts MTA officials, and the massive system-wide rehabilitation plan whose funding is reliant on congestion pricing, in a serious bind.

Should officials have to pursue that more intensive environmental impact statement, central business district tolling is unlikely to start in January 2021. Should they pursue an abbreviated review, it’s also possible congestion pricing won’t begin in January, because those abbreviated studies take time too, and their very abbreviation can prompt lawsuits alleging inadequate review, creating more delays... FULL ARTICLE

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