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Manhattan’s elected representatives are eager for the MTA’s congestion-pricing program to launch — but want to make sure the borough has a say in how the vehicle-tolling program in their borough works.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer sent a letter to Gov. Hochul Tuesday that was signed by each of the island’s representatives in Congress, the Legislature and City Council demanding “Manhattan representation” on the board overseeing the tolls.
The scheme will charge motorists who drive south of 60th St. in Manhattan, and is required to generate enough revenue to finance $15 billion of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2020-2024 capital plan.
By state law, the MTA was allowed to start collecting the tolls early this year. But a long federal approval process that included delays caused by officials in the Trump administration have pushed the program’s launch back to at least 2023.
Hochul has decisions to make in the meantime, including appointing members to a six-person panel called the “Traffic Mobility Review Board” that’s required to advise on the cost of the tolls and anyone who is exempt from paying them.
“Legislation passed in 2019 that created the TMRB [Traffic Mobility Review Board] required at least one representative from the Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road regions, but not a representative from Manhattan, even though congestion pricing will be implemented in the borough,” the letter states.
“Manhattanites deserve a seat at the table and the ability to offer the kind of localized perspective that would only improve the finalized program.”
Mayor de Blasio is authorized to nominate one member to the board, and in July put forth the city’s Finance Commissioner Sherif Soliman as his pick. Hochul has not moved forward with his appointment.
Hochul spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays declined to provide a timeline of when the governor would appoint members to the board.
“Gov. Hochul is committed to implementing congestion pricing efficiently and effectively, and we are working to make appointments that keep the process moving forward,” said Crampton-Hays. “We appreciate the input of these elected leaders as we evaluate how best to ensure a strong transportation network for all.”
The MTA next week is scheduled to hold the first of 13 virtual public hearings required by the Federal Highway Administration to seek feedback on the tolls.