Why Some New York City Residents Are Suing Over Congestion Pricing

Kathryn Freed does not own a car, gets around by bus and subway, and supports the concept of congestion pricing. As a city councilwoman from Lower Manhattan in the 1990s, she wrote a bill that looked to the policy to ease gridlock.

But now, Ms. Freed is part of a group, New Yorkers Against Congestion Pricing Tax, that is suing to block the program, which is scheduled to start charging tolls next month to drive into Manhattan at 60th Street and below.

The program, the first of its kind in the nation, has drawn an outcry from drivers from New Jersey and the surrounding region. Now, it faces its latest legal challenge, in U.S. District Court in Lower Manhattan from city residents and New York elected officials who also oppose it and are mounting a last-ditch effort against it.

The program is intended to reduce congestion in the city’s central business district and raise billions for the mass transit system that millions of New Yorkers rely on every day.

But opponents say it would shift more traffic to the neighborhoods where they live and work as drivers gravitate to toll-free routes like the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive. As a result, they say, residents in some of the city’s most disadvantaged communities, including the Lower East Side, East Harlem and the South Bronx, could find more traffic and pollution on their doorsteps.

“We don’t want the pollution, and I don’t think we should have to have it,” said Ms. Freed, who lives on the Lower East Side and has chronic bronchitis. “Come up with a better plan.”

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