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Gov. Kathy Hochul, MTA officials thrilled congestion pricing is coming to NYC

Congestion pricing clears federal hurdles, is coming to NYC
Congestion pricing clears federal hurdles, is coming to NYC 02:52

NEW YORK -- With the long battle to win approval of congestion pricing finally over, Gov. Kathy Hochul and MTA officials are taking something of a victory lap.

They say drivers who go below 60th Street in Manhattan will start paying by sometime next spring.

READ MOREFederal Highway Administration approves Manhattan congestion pricing plan

The MTA hasn't set a fee scale yet and says the goal is to reduce traffic, pollution, and fund improvements to mass transit.

It has taken a long time for congestion pricing to get over the finish line -- 16 years since Michael Bloomberg first proposed it and four years to get the feds to green-light it after the Legislature passed it in 2019.

So the head of the MTA can be forgiven if he did something of a "happy dance."

If he had castanets, Chairman Janno Lieber probably would have done the flamenco to celebrate getting the green light from the feds for congestion pricing.

Instead, "A little bit of Bronx salsa there, right?" Lieber said.

It was that kind of day to talk about all the good things the $1 billion per year raised from congestion pricing will do for mass transit.

"That money can be transformative," Hochul said.

READ MORENew Jersey lawmakers gearing up for fight against congestion pricing

The governor says the money, which can only be used for capital projects, will fix the subways, electrify the bus fleet, allow for the installation of elevators for the disabled, and a whole lot more.

"With congestion pricing, New Yorkers have a lot to lose. How about 15% to 20% fewer vehicles in the Central Business District every single day?" Hochul said. "How about less air pollution, lower carbon emissions, lower speeds, fewer crashes? I don't mind losing that."

Watch: Reporter notes from latest MTA board meeting

Latest updates from MTA board meeting 02:08

Officials say they ordered the company installing the tolling apparatus to begin production immediately, and the Transit Mobility Review Board, the TMRB, will begin to hold hearings on what to charge. An earlier report suggested fees to enter the Central Business District below 60th Street of between $9 and $23.

"There's a lot of data that will be digested over the next few months and they'll make a determination on what the rates should be for individual classes, times of day," Hochul said.

"All of the requests for exemptions -- there are more than 100 of them -- are being considered by the TMRB. It's premature to say how any of them would come out," Lieber added.

And what about toll relief for people who already pay to take the Holland and Lincoln tunnels from New Jersey or the Brooklyn Battery and Queens-Midtown tunnels, which all empty into the congestion zone?

"It is under consideration by the TMRB," Lieber said.

Officials refused to discuss the threatened litigation by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, but Lieber has said New York doesn't have to get New Jersey's permission to raise tolls, just like Murphy doesn't ask permission of New York to raise tolls on the Garden State Parkway or the New Jersey Turnpike.

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