Lawmakers in New Jersey plan to fight fire with fire should New York City go through with its congestion-pricing plan that would add a hefty surcharge on Garden State motorists coming into the Big Apple using the George Washington Bridge.

At a press conference early Monday, New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer joined state lawmakers to announce plans for New Jersey's own round of extra charges for out-of-state drivers. Legislation is in the works to create a so-called relief fund; the legislation would be dropped if NYC were to choose to back off its project that's expected to cost regular GWB crossers $3,000 extra per year.

"If New York is going to attack our wallets, they're going to attack our families, we're going to give them a taste of their own medicine," said Rep. Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District.

Under the plan, he said, New Jersey would add a sales tax on tolls paid at every NJ-NY crossing on all non-New Jersey residents.

"New Jersey drivers will be exempt because, after all, enough's enough," he said. "They're trying to hit us with this congestion tax — we've got to take care of our own."

Every dollar collected, Gottheimer said, would be added to a new "congestion tax relief fund," from which New Jersey motorists can be reimbursed for NYC congestion pricing.

New York recently received approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a federally required environmental assessment of its plan. It's anticipated that individuals who enter Manhattan over the GWB would pay a $13 surcharge; officials in New York believe the program can raise about $1 billion annually.

"New Jersey is not New York City's piggy bank, and if they move forward with this scheme, it would be irresponsible for us not to find a way to protect our own residents," said state Sen. Joseph Lagana, D-Bergen. "This congestion pricing scheme cannot go unchallenged."

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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