The grass is greener in the Garden State? New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wants you to believe that!
Murphy is targeting neighboring Gov. Kathy Hochul over New York’s congestion pricing program — with an ad campaign aimed at persuading Big Apple residents and businesses to relocate to his state, the Post has learned.
“New York’s congestion tax system is unfair to North Jersey commuters who already pay so much in tolls and fees,” Murphy said in a statement, referring to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s controversial higher “congestion tax” that Jerseyans would have to pay. to enter Midtown Manhattan.
“At the same time, it gives us an opportunity to highlight New Jersey’s value proposition to New York City residents and businesses alike: an ideal location, a talented workforce pool, less congestion and, most importantly, no congestion tax.” I am every day out there arguing why companies should be investigating New Jersey to relocate to.”
Beginning Monday, New Jersey’s Murphy-affiliated nonprofit economic development arm, Choose NJ, will place digital ads at key strategic intersections on the New York side of the Hudson entering or exiting Manhattan.
One ad reads: “Pay a congestion tax to sit in New York traffic? GET OUT. Move your business to New Jersey.”
A similar second ad reads: “LESS CONGESTION. NO DUTY TAX. Move your business to New Jersey.”
At bottom right, billboards encourage motorists to visit Choose NJ’s website. thisisnewjersey.com. The sizeable six-figure ad buy will take a few weeks, New Jersey officials said.
Many New Yorkers are already moving to Jersey each year for cheaper housing, space and a better education.
Hochul supports the congestion fee the MTA plans to collect for entry into the Business Zone south of 60th Street. This toll is expected to cost drivers between $9 and $23, while trucks could incur a fee of up to $85, depending on their size.
Approval for the toll plan was originally approved by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo — when Hochul was his lieutenant governor — and the New York state legislature in 2019.
The plan was mired in bureaucratic scrutiny, but edging closer to reality when President Biden — through the Federal Highway Administration — tentatively approved the MTA’s long-delayed environmental review of New York City’s efforts to introduce a toll in parts of Manhattan.
Hochul defended the toll plan through her representative on Sunday.
“Governor Hochul is committed to introducing congestion charging to reduce traffic, improve air quality and support our public transportation system,” said Hochul spokesman John Lindsay.
“We have worked closely with partners across government and with community members over the past four years to develop a plan to achieve these goals. Determining legal adequacy is a critical step that will allow our environmental impact assessment to be publicly available to everyone, and we will continue to work with our partners to advance congestion pricing.”
The MTA, which will operate the toll system, defended the plan as economical and environmentally friendly.
“New York has a world-renowned economy that attracts the most talented people and companies. In the 21st century, economies with less congestion and less car dependency will thrive. As such, New Jersey may be looking to siphon off a few businesses, but overall the Central Business District tolling program is expected to be a huge boost to New York’s economy,” said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan.
The MTA also rebuffed Murphy and his allies, calling the plan a “congestion tax.” They said a tax is something that cannot be avoided, but the Midtown toll can be avoided by not driving into the central business district.
The ads were misleading, MTA officials argued, because if the program continued and was successful, fewer motorists from Jersey and elsewhere would be stuck in traffic.
Murphy is now ramping up his opposition as the toll plan, designed to curb traffic in Midtown while increasing revenue for the MTA, is likely to become a reality.
The MTA announced concessions last week to ease resistance in the outer boroughs and encourage motorists to drive into Midtown during off-peak hours to reduce congestion.
According to MTA officials, motorists who enter the street below 60th Street between midnight and 4 a.m. will get at least a 50% discount on a toll that is expected to cost between $9 and $23.
Under the plan, lower-income commuters — who earn $50,000 a year or are otherwise eligible for government assistance — receive a 25% rebate on trunk and branch tolls after ten trips into the zone.
Also, taxis and other rental vehicles are only charged once per day, regardless of how often they enter the area.
Officials are also considering allowing drivers free entry into the congestion zone between midnight and 6 a.m. to reduce truck traffic on the Cross-Bronx Expressway.
The agency came under fire after its environmental assessments showed the Midtown congestion program could bring hundreds of extra trucks onto freeways in the poorest borough, whose neighborhoods have the city’s highest rates of asthma.
The MTA also pledged $15 million to the city’s program to modernize the old and dirty diesel-powered reefer containers at Hunts Point Market in the South Bronx, the main distribution point for much of the city’s fresh fruit and vegetable supply.
The Hunts Point cleanup, the MTA said, will help offset additional pollution from new truck traffic being diverted from Manhattan to the Bronx to avoid the toll.
Locations for Jersey’s new advertising campaign include: the George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, Queensboro Bridge and Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, as well as locations along the West Side Highway, Major Deegan Expressway, Sheridan Expressway and Cross Island Parkway.