Two Democratic congressmen from New Jersey are calling on federal transportation officials to protect state commuters from the "double taxing" of a proposed congestion pricing plan on the George Washington Bridge.

New tolls are would be levied in an area from the southern border of Central Park to Battery Park at the bottom of Manhattan. Several hundred thousand vehicles per day entered that section of Manhattan during pre-pandemic times, a city study estimated.

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. 5th District, pointed out that the plan would not affect commuters coming into Manhattan on the Henry Hudson Bridge even though its further north than the GWB.

"They are going after Jersey. They are protecting New York drivers and screwing Jersey," Gottheimer said.

"New York City wants to blow up our historical cooperation and hit every hard-working, middle class worker with an additional $14 congestion tax on top of the already unaffordable $15 toll every time they go over the George Washington Bridge and into Manhattan," he said.

New York would use the revenue, estimated at about $1 billion annually, to issue bonds to fund $15 billion in capital improvements over the next four years in order to refurbish an aging subway and bus system.

Gottheimer called the congestion fee the "Manhattan Moocher Congestion Tax" and that the city would be using New Jersey commuters to fund their own financial problems. The fee, which he called a "sick joke," would also put a financial burden on an area already affected economically by the pandemic.

GWB commuters also face the prospect of losing the carpool discount as the bridge plans to go cashless, meaning toll takers will no longer be in place to count the number of individuals are in a vehicle —  although no date has been announced by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  Gottheimer has argued that the technology exists to count occupants.

Gottheimer and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J. 9th District, want Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to sit down with officials from New Jersey and New York to come up with a more equitable solution.

"New Jerseyans are used to paying our fair share but New York’s congestion pricing scheme is a bridge too far. New York’s plan would saddle Jersey commuters with extra taxes. This is wrong and we won’t stand for it," Pascrell said at a news conference with Gottheimer in Fort Lee on Friday. "My friend Congressman Gottheimer and I are calling on the Biden Administration to right this wrong and ensure fairness for New Jersey drivers. Anything less is unacceptable."

Numerous details still need to be finalized, including the price of tolls, how they're collected and which vehicles might be exempted or receive discounts.

Congestion pricing comes as tolls on MTA crossings went up on Sunday on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, RFK Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge,Henry Hudson Bridge, Cross Bay Bridge, Marine Parkway Bridge, Queens Midtown Tunnel and Hugh L. Carey Tunnel.

Tolls also increased Sunday on the eight crossings over the Delaware River maintained by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission

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Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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