MTA releases the Environmental Assessment for the Central Business Tolling District Program in a folder presented to representatives of the media at 2 Broadway. (Marc A. Hermann / MTA)
Project Sponsors Encourage the Public to Participate and Comment
The Federal Highway Administration, New York State Department of Transportation, MTA Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and New York City Department of Transportation today released an Environmental Assessment of the proposed Central Business District Tolling Program (CBDTP) in Manhattan, known commonly as congestion pricing. The Environmental Assessment document is available for review online at https://new.mta.info/CBDTP and in more than 60 locations throughout the New York City metropolitan region (locations may be found on the website).
The document evaluates the effects of the program compared with taking no action. The document finds that central business district tolling would accomplish the goal of New York State’s MTA Reform and Traffic Mobility Act of reducing traffic congestion in the Manhattan Central Business District (CBD) and raising revenue for investment in transit.
“The tremendous detail included in this assessment makes clear the widespread benefits that would result from central business district tolling,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “Bottom line: congestion pricing is good for the environment, good for public transit and good for New York and the region. We look forward to receiving public feedback in the weeks ahead.”
State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “The release of this Environmental Assessment is an important step forward in this transformative initiative to help us reduce congestion in Manhattan’s central business district. I encourage everyone to attend the public hearings and provide feedback and comments, so that we can make improvements and deliver a comprehensive plan.”
“We must get congestion pricing done so we can invest in public transit, curb emissions, and reduce traffic, which has roared back to pre-COVID levels,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “This draft Environmental Assessment is the product of three years of detailed study and is a major milestone towards delivering congestion pricing for New Yorkers. We’re looking forward to hearing from the public during this important review process and we thank the MTA, state, and federal partners for their collaboration.”
Dr. Allison C. de Cerreño, MTA Deputy Chief Operating Officer, said: “You will find many of the concerns raised in early public outreach reflected in the Environmental Assessment, whether through additional analysis, the inclusion of a tolling scenario that was not originally envisioned, or the several enhancements related to air quality noise, and more.”
Findings Reveal Overall Environmental Benefit
The Environmental Assessment (EA), based on modeling of seven tolling scenarios within the CBD Tolling Alternative, with different combinations of potential exemptions, discounts and/or crossing credits, and the resultant toll rates. The EA finds the program would result in either beneficial effects or no adverse effects for the majority of topics studied, including regional air quality, regional transportation, and parking. Where potential adverse effects were identified, mitigation is provided.
The assessment found that 85% of existing work trips to the CBD are made by transit, 5% by car from New York City, 3% by car from New York suburban counties, 3% by car from New Jersey, 0.2% by car from Connecticut, and 4% by other modes, including taxis, for-hire vehicles, bicycling and walking.
Among the key findings of the assessment are:
- Implementation of tolls would achieve the purpose and need of the project – to reduce traffic congestion in the Manhattan CBD in a manner that will generate revenue for future transportation improvements.
- With initiation of the program, the number of vehicles entering the CBD would decline by 15.4% to 19.9%, depending on the tolling scenario. Traffic elsewhere in the region would change between -1.5% to 0.2%, depending on the location and the tolling scenario.
- Air quality would improve overall, with greater beneficial effects within and closer to the CBD.
- Reduction in traffic would result in increased reliability of bus service
- Increase in transit ridership of 1% to 2%
The project partners received more than 7,300 comments in early enhanced outreach as the Environmental Assessment was being prepared. Seeking feedback on the document now that the Environmental Assessment has been released, the project partners have outlined a series of virtual public hearings that will take place from Aug. 25 through Aug. 31, as well as a meeting of the Environmental Justice Stakeholder Working Group, on Aug. 19, and a meeting of the Environmental Justice Technical Advisory Group, for Aug. 22. The project partners are accepting comments online, via email, mail, voicemail and fax. Details appear below.
Following the public review period, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) will determine whether establishment of the program would result in significant effects in addition to the widespread benefits detailed in the assessment. The FHWA will issue one of two documents responding to the environmental assessment: either a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), establishing that any adverse effects are not significant or can be mitigated below significant level, or, if determined that there are significant effects that cannot be mitigated, a request for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) requiring further study of the proposed program.
If the FHWA approves the project, contractors would have 310 days to design, develop and implement the tolling infrastructure and tolling system technology that would process the tolls.
Ways to Comment on the Environmental Assessment
The project partners are accepting comments online, by email, mail, phone and fax, and at a series of six public hearings beginning on Thursday, Aug. 25, and concluding on Wednesday, Aug. 31. Members of the public who wish to speak at the hearings can sign up online at mta.info/CBDTP. The hearings will be accessible online at mta.info/CBDTP at these dates and times:
- Thursday, Aug. 25, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Sunday, Aug. 28, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Monday, Aug. 29, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Tuesday, Aug. 30, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
- Wednesday, Aug. 31, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In addition, the Environmental Justice Stakeholder Working Group will hold its third meeting, on Friday, Aug. 19, at 1 p.m., and the Environmental Justice Technical Advisory Group will hold its fourth meeting, on Monday, Aug. 22 at 1 p.m.
In addition to the hearings, there are many ways the public can make their voices heard. Beginning on Aug. 10, the agencies will collect public feedback on the Environmental Assessment online as well as via email, mail, telephone voicemail and fax.
Mail: CBD Tolling Program, 2 Broadway, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10004
Fax: Send to (212) 504-3148 with Attention to CBDTP Team.
Comments may also be provided to FHWA.
Mail: FHWA – NY Division, RE: CBDTP, Leo W. O’Brien Federal Building, 11A Clinton Ave, Suite 719, Albany, NY 12207
Comments received will be considered and become part of the administrative record. Each public hearing will be livestreamed on the MTA YouTube channel at YouTube.com/MTAInfo and on the project website: mta.info/CBDTP. Anyone from any area can participate in any hearing. Speakers will be provided three minutes to speak, and anyone wishing to speak at the hearings will have an opportunity to do so. It is requested, but not required, that those wishing to speak sign up by 7:00 p.m. the previous day at mta.info/CBDTP or by calling the Public Hearing Hotline at (646) 252-6777.
Requesting Language Services Can Be Done Online or By Phone
At the public hearings, CART Captioning and American Sign Language services will be available. Members of the public who are deaf or hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or the free 711 relay service, and then ask to be connected to the Public Hearing Hotline at (646) 252-6777 to speak with an agent.
Members of the public who are blind or have low vision may submit an accommodation request online at mta.info/CBDTP or call the Public Hearing Hotline at (646) 252-6777. Please send the request at least five business days prior to the scheduled hearing.
Members of the public who do not have access to a computer or who do not have access to the Internet may listen to the hearings by calling 1-888-788-0099 (toll-free) then entering Webinar ID 826 0673 8045, followed by the pound (#) sign, followed again by the pound (#) sign.
If language assistance or any other accommodation is required, please submit a request at least five business days before the scheduled hearing date in one of the following ways: online at mta.info/CBDTP, by calling the Public Hearing Hotline at (646) 252-6777, or by sending a letter to MTA Government & Community Relations, Re: MTA CBDTP Public Hearings, 2 Broadway, B20.81, New York, NY 10004. For those who make a timely request for language assistance, the MTA will provide interpretation or translation.