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New York considering congestion charge to clean up air

A study suggests the number of cars driving in, out and through Midtown and Lower Manhattan could fall by 20%.

Authorities in New York are considering a congestion charge in a bid to clean up the city’s air, with a maximum toll of $23 based on a sliding scale cited in proposals. 

vehicles on road beside buildings during nighttime

A plan was originally approved by local lawmakers in 2019, but failed to move forward due to inaction by the federal government administration, led by then-President Donald Trump. The Big Apple currently has the most congested streets in the U.S., and if a new charge is imposed would become the only major city in the country to do so. 

The toll would only apply between 60th Street in Midtown Manhattan, and Battery Park, at the southern tip of the world-famous island. The Federal Highway Administration most now approve pr0posals, and confirmed last week it had conducted an environmental assessment. This found a potential fall in car traffic of between 15 and 20%, improvements to air quality and the efficiency of buses, with passenger numbers climbing by 1-2%. Up to $1.5bn in revenue could be generated.

The public is invited to submit comments by 9th September, which will be taken into consideration. No timeline for a final decision has been made, but if green-lit charges could come into force within 10 months. According to plans, passenger vehicles would pay between $9 and $23 to enter the area at peak times, falling to $5 overnight. Existing bridge and tunnel tolls could be applied to the fees. 

In 2019, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to ban new all-glass skyscrapers by 2030 in a bid to cut emissions by up to 30%. The structure often rate poorly on energy efficiency due to the ability for heat to easily escape through the facade. 

Image credit: Kyler Boone

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