Democrat-run New York City is ready to hit residents and visitors alike with a “congestion charge” after federal approval was granted Monday for its first-in-the-nation plan to impose big tolls to drive into the most visited parts of Manhattan.
The program could begin as soon as the spring of 2024, bringing New York City into line with places like London, Singapore, and Stockholm that have implemented similar tax impositions on drivers simply going about their everyday business.
The news was announced within hours of NYC officials ordering pizzerias that use coal or wood-burning ovens to slice their carbon emissions by 75 percent or else face hefty fines, all in the name of protecting the environment.
Up to 100 restaurants could be affected by the new rule, as Breitbart News reported.
AP reports under one of several traffic tolling impositions under consideration, drivers could be hit with as much as $23 a day to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street as part of the plan to get people out of their cars and onto public transport or even just start walking rather than driving.
The exact amount is still to be decided by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is overseeing the long-stalled plan, as Breitbart News reported.
The congestion pricing plan cleared its final federal hurdle after getting approved by the Federal Highway Administration, a spokesperson for New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Monday.
“With the green light from the federal government, we look forward to moving ahead with the implementation of this program,” Hochul, a Democrat, said in a statement.
The Biden administration has already publicly backed the plan as CNN reported:
President Joe Biden’s administration is set to allow New York City to move forward with a landmark program that will toll vehicles entering Lower Manhattan, after a public review period ends Monday.
In practice it works like any other toll, but because it specifically charges people to drive in the traffic-choked area below 60th street in Manhattan, it would be the first program of its kind in the United States.
The plan had been delayed for years, but it cleared a milestone last month when the Federal Highway Administration signed off on the release of an environmental assessment.
The levy has been sharply opposed by officials in New Jersey, where people bound for Manhattan by car could see costs of commuting skyrocket.
Those complaints have been echoed in other cities like Los Angeles where residents simply see a new tax being foisted on drivers.
Taxi and car service drivers who have to access Manhattan as part of their daily work have also objected, saying it would make fares unaffordable.
Some MTA proposals have included caps on tolls for taxis and other for-hire vehicles, although it looks like at this early stage no cap is forthcoming, leaving room to increase the levy in future years.