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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

FHWA Greenlights Environmental Assessment for New York City’s Proposed Congestion Pricing Plan

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

FHWA 08-21
Contact: Doug Hecox
Tel.: (202) 366-0660

WASHINGTON – In a letter sent today to New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) determined that an Environmental Assessment (EA) is the appropriate next step for the New York City Congestion Pricing project, which would manage Midtown traffic congestion using tolls.

FHWA officials had previously explained that New York must become part of FHWA’s Value Pricing Pilot Program (VPPP) to be able to implement congestion pricing. Entering this program triggers a review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). New York officials had reached out to FHWA requesting feedback on the appropriate level of review under NEPA.  

“The FHWA looks forward to assisting New York so we can arrive at a prompt and informed NEPA determination on this important and precedent-setting project,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. “This approach will ensure that the public participates as local and state leaders explore new possibilities for reducing congestion, improving air quality and investing in transit to increase ridership.”

An EA generally requires less time to complete than an Environmental Impact Statement should no significant impacts be identified.

Under the proposal, local officials would charge a once-daily variable toll for vehicles entering or remaining within the “Central Business District” – a cordoned area stretching from 60th Street in Midtown to Battery Park. The stated goals of the local officials include reducing congestion, improving air quality, creating a sustainable capital funding source for transit, increasing transit ridership and improving transit services for low-income residents. The plan would generate $15 billion over four years for the MTA for needed improvements in the existing transit system. If implemented, the proposal would become the nation’s first cordon congestion pricing toll zone of this scale.

Through the robust public participation process planned, Pollack said the EA will analyze traffic volumes and air quality impacts of the proposed tolling program. The EA process will be designed to ensure involvement of stakeholders from throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – the commuting area of the Central Business District.

For more information about FHWA’s Value Pricing Pilot Program, visit our website.

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