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Colleges see big drop in foreign-language enrollment; Kentucky advocates say it's time to bury medical debt; Young Farmers in Michigan hope the new farm bill will include key benefits regarding land access.

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The White House presses for supplemental Ukraine aid. Leaders condemn antisemitic attacks during Gaza ceasefire protests. Despite concerns about the next election, one Arizona legal expert says courts generally side with voters and democracy.

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Congress has iced the Farm Bill, but farmer advocates argue some portions are urgent, the Hoosier State is reaping big rewards from wind and solar, and opponents react to a road through Alaska's Brooks Range, long a dream destination for hunters and anglers.

NYC Congestion Pricing Plan to Receive Federal Approval

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Monday, June 26, 2023   

New York City's first-in-the-nation congestion pricing plan is slated to receive federal approval in the coming days.

The plan calls for a toll on drivers coming into Manhattan's central business district - which is defined as everything below 60th Street, with the exception of the West Side Highway and the FDR Drive.

A goal of the plan is to reduce congested traffic on the streets by getting more people to use public transit.

Proponents of the plan - such as Renae Reynolds, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign - have said they hope this will force the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to improve mass-transit service.

"So, that means improving the infrastructure in our subway system," said Reynolds, "to make our trains move faster and provide more frequent service."

She said this plan helps buses operate better since they won't be encumbered by heavy traffic.

Lawmakers from the outer boroughs and New Jersey have been vehemently opposed to the plan. New Jersey's U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer - D-Wyckoff - and U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez - D- Jersey City - have said they feel the plan is a blatant cash grab for the MTA.

Along with New Jersey U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell - D-Paterson - they introduced a bill to halt the plan. The bill has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

While the program is awaiting federal approval, much of the plan is still in the works. The toll, which is slated to be anywhere from $9 to $23, hasn't been set, nor have the locations for toll stations.

Mary Barber, New York and New Jersey state director for the Environmental Defense Fund, said one final hurdle will be the Traffic Mobility Review Board.

"They will convene, hopefully this summer, and develop their recommendation for the design of the program," said Barber. "And then that recommendation will be given to the MTA board for review, I believe public hearings, and then hopefully approval."

If all goes well, the program will be in full swing by spring or summer of 2024.

Based on this program's initial years, congestion pricing could be brought to other boroughs, and possibly other parts of the state, albeit in a possibly altered form.



Disclosure: Environmental Defense Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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