Downtown resident sues over congestion pricing, claiming MTA plan will clog West Side Highway

A Battery Park City holiday songwriter who has successfully sued Mariah Carey now has another high-profile target in her legal crosshairs: the MTA’s congestion pricing program.

Elizabeth Chan alleges in the suit that the MTA didn’t study the effects of congestion pricing on the Lower Manhattan neighborhood, which is built atop landfill between the West Side Highway and the Hudson River. The case appears to be the first legal challenge of congestion pricing brought by people who live within the toll zone

Because any driver who remains on the West Side Highway will be exempt from the tolls, Chan fears the initiative will lead to more pollution and slower ambulance response times in her neighborhood of 17,000 people. She says the tolls are a matter of life and death because her daughter suffers from seizures.

“We rely on the ambulance response time,” Chan said. “And I’m so afraid of the day they won’t make it.


Oren Barzilay, president of union Local 2507 representing FDNY EMS workers, told Gothamist ambulance response times could go up in Battery Park due to increased traffic. Some EMS workers may quit their jobs rather than pay the tolls to drive to work, he added.

“What New Yorkers should be alarmed at is the increasing possibility of EMS members outright resigning from the FDNY due to this congestion pricing plan,” he wrote in an email. “FDNY EMS is experiencing staffing shortages already and congestion pricing is most likely to add a significant increase in ambulance response times.”

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