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Lawsuits filed in New York state, New Jersey to stop congestion pricing

Bergen County files papers to join congestion pricing lawsuits
Bergen County files papers to join congestion pricing lawsuits 02:23

NEW YORK -- There are escalating tensions on both sides of the Hudson River as the legal battle over congestion pricing continues to turn ugly.

MTA Chair bashes New Jersey governor for lawsuit

The head of the MTA is calling out New Jersey and Gov. Phil Murphy.

Watch Natalie Duddridge's report

MTA Chair Janno Lieber bashes New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy for congestion pricing lawsuit 02:13

At an MTA board meeting on Wednesday, CEO Janno Lieber came out swinging, angry that Garden State politicians, including Murphy, sued, saying congestion pricing was rushed and that it would be a burden to drivers. Several other lawsuits have followed, stalling the tolling project.

"There's no reason that Phil Murphy, who is not on the ballot in Brownsville, should decide whether the folks on the A train get service that's as fast and reliable as L train service. That's what's at stake in this -- a $2 billion project that's on hold right now," Lieber said.

Lieber also called out the governor and NJ Transit for challenging the MTA's congestion pricing program, all while NJ Transit proposes their own system-wide fare hikes that could go into effect on July 1.

"In New Jersey, they're focused on drivers, but they haven't solved the fiscal crisis and the only solution so far is to hit the riders for 15% more fares," Lieber said. "Meantime, NJ Transit every couple days seems to have a complete shutdown because they and Amtrak have a signal and communication system which keeps falling apart."

Some drivers told CBS New York they are overjoyed congestion pricing could be stalled.

"Yes!" one exclaimed.

"I'm very happy New Jersey is suing Manhattan because I already pay for parking. I come in from Westchester. I'm a teacher, so I don't get that much," another said.

Others recognize the MTA needs financial assistance, but they don't want to bear the burden.

"Use your money better. Don't raise my taxes," one said.

"The subway system most definitely needs to be improved. Tax the rich," another said.

And then there are those who say we should pay for the roads we use.

"I'm not an expert at urban policy, but it seems to me that we have to pay to take the [New Jersey] Turnpike and the [Garden State] Parkway, so maybe they should pay to access some of the infrastructure here in New York," one said.

Despite all the back and forth, the MTA says it plans to move forward with congestion pricing infrastructure and hopes to implement it in the spring.

CBS New York also reached out to Gov, Murphy's office, but has not yet received a response.

Bergen County files papers to join lawsuits

Bergen County, with 70 municipalities and more than 1 million residents, has filed papers to join New Jersey and Fort Lee's lawsuits to stop New York from implementing congestion pricing.

"They're trying to fix mismanagement for years and years and years on the backs of others, and that's not fair," Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said.

Tedesco's legal team argues drivers will try to avoid both the tunnels and jam the George Washington Bridge, which will increase traffic in a number of Bergen County towns.

"So what'll happen is the traffic will back up more and more, the environment will suffer because of the emissions from all the cars and the trucks," Tedesco said.

David Desharnais agrees that drivers will try and avoid tolls. His company, Rekor Systems, specializes in traffic trends using artificial intelligence.

"They'll go through neighborhoods that never were built for those kinds of traffic flows. It's going to create a pubic safety issue," he said.

The governor's administration is requesting the state's suit be updated, adding congestion pricing also discriminates against drivers in the Garden State.

"I think that there is a very strong possibility that this lawsuit will happen in New Jersey and potentially even be heard all the way up to the Supreme Court. The reason being is there's an argument that the Constitution is being violated, specifically the commerce clause," attorney Amanda Rieman said.

"So people have a right to sue, but we have gone to thousands and thousands of hours ... We've worked with the federal government, made all the thousands of adjustments. We have done everything possible to bring this to reality," Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

Bergen County is expected to find out by Feb. 5 whether their brief will be accepted by the court.

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