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OpinionEditorial

NY to Trump: Just say yes

Vehicles arrive in Manhattan after crossing the Williamsburg

Vehicles arrive in Manhattan after crossing the Williamsburg Bridge in Manhattan on Feb. 26, 2019. Federal approval is needed in order to move forward with New York State's plans to toll the roads in Manhattan' central business district. Credit: Charles Eckert

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s meeting with President Donald Trump last week highlighted the ongoing divide between New York’s needs, and the president’s unwillingness to meet them.

And while Thursday’s meeting was predominantly about whether the federal government’s Trusted Traveler program can get access to the state’s DMV database, there are other important issues on which Trump has yet to act. The Trump administration has delayed the construction of the Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River, leaving no alternative when the old and decrepit structure finally breaks. And despite a tweet from Trump last August, he has yet to act on assisting the state with completing the next phase of the Second Avenue Subway.

Most recently, he seems to be playing games with the state’s plans to toll the roads in Manhattan’s central business district. The effort known as congestion pricing requires federal approval, since some of the roads involved receive federal funds.

But so far, that approval doesn’t seem to be coming. To be clear: Congestion pricing won’t cost the federal government anything. Except that approving the plan would give New York a win.

Congestion pricing will alleviate traffic, help the environment and provide necessary funds for the subways, buses and commuter railroads. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is depending on congestion pricing to fund a large chunk — $15 billion worth — of its $51.5 billion five-year capital plan. About 10% of the money raised from central business district tolling is expected to go to the Long Island Rail Road.

Without those funds, plenty of capital projects could be delayed or might not move forward. For congestion pricing to start up next year, federal approval must come soon. The MTA says it has provided the federal government with everything officials there have request. Assuming Trump still sees infrastructure as a key priority, signing off on congestion pricing would be an easy win, as would moving forward on Gateway and the Second Avenue Subway. Enough with all the talking.

— The editorial board

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