Dear Governor Murphy,
We the people of Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea on the west side of Manhattan, implore you to take the appropriate steps to stem the humanitarian crisis New Jersey drivers befell our community everyday. From 3 to 8 pm, hordes of angry and aggressive drivers pack into Lincoln Tunnel accesses, located on miles of commercial and residential streets. They honk and idle for hours, block every intersection and every pedestrian crossing and prevent emergency vehicles from passing through.
As a result, restaurants struggle to recover from the pandemic because they cannot use their outside space; terrified residents keep their children home to avoid the mayhem; the district has the third worst air quality in New York City and emergency services are often delayed or honk desperately, to gain passage.
Since the COVID recovery, the situation is much worse. It has become untenable. This video was taken recently on 9th Avenue.
NYPD does not have the resources to man 30 or more intersections everyday. Shouldn’t New Jersey accept responsibility for the chaos sewn by its citizens on an adjoining state?
Which brings us to Congestion Pricing. You made pronouncements in opposition to New York ‘s Congestion Pricing scheme. Would you feel the same way if New Yorkers were imposing such level of chaos onto New Jersey residents? It is urgent that drivers give up their cars and return to mass transit. The current situation is not sustainable for New Jersey commuters either: the length of peak hour commute has increased by one hour. It is clear that the current tolls do not sufficiently dissuade driving. The congestion is real and must be abated.
On a regional level, congestion pricing is about reducing congestion and raising funds for public transit. Two New Jersey mass transit projects are underway that could benefit from funding : Port Authority Bus terminal replacement and the Penn Station expansion. The State of New Jersey itself could significantly increase river crossing tolls to achieve its mass transit goals and bring relief to our community? Only then would there be a legitimate reason to consider exemptions.