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Gov. Cuomo Says Feds Must First Approve Congestion Pricing Before Toll Charge Can Be Determined

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a stunning admission on Thursday, just 10 months before life-changing congestion pricing is set to take effect. There's no plan for how much motorists will pay, and, apparently, no plan to make a plan.

It's the burning question tens of thousands of people who drive into and around Manhattan want to know: What is the plan for congestion pricing?

"Congestion pricing, the federal government has to approve it because it deals with some federal road," Cuomo said.

When reminded by CBS2's Marcia Kramer that taxpayers want to know how much they can expect to pay so they can plan their lives, Cuomo said, "I don't set the toll. I don't know."

When reminded he said he's the one in charge of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Cuomo responded, "No, I never said that."

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And with that, Kramer and the governor were off to the races, so to speak. Kramer tried to find out what New Yorkers can expect when one of the most dramatic, life-changing traffic programs in the entire country goes into effect, while Cuomo said publicly for the very first time that the feds are holding up congestion pricing as retribution, a multifaceted punishment for the state's Green Light Law program, which gives driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants.

"Will they hold approval on congestion pricing hostage? Yes. Will they hold the AirTrain approval at LaGuardia hostage? Yes. Will they hold the Gateway Tunnels hostage? Yes. Because that's how they do business," Cuomo said.

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When asked what that has to do with setting how much people will have to pay for congestion pricing, Cuomo said, "You can't set it up unless the federal government approves."

But blaming the feds may be just a new and convenient excuse. Transportation expert Sam Schwartz told Kramer state lawmakers always planned to keep people in the dark until the last possible moment -- weeks, maybe days before new fees to enter Manhattan's Central Business District were to go into effect next January.

"The handwriting was on the wall with the legislation that we wouldn't know the details of congestion pricing until late November," Schwartz said. "Why late November? In my mind, it's after the elections. No elected official wants to stand up and say, 'I'm supporting a $13 charge, a $15 charge,' whatever it is."

Cuomo said congestion pricing may be delayed by the feds in action, but Schwartz said he expected it to be delayed, anyway. This is New York City, he said. Someone will sue.

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