By Tony Aiello

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Mayor Bill de Blasio is upping the pressure on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to make progress on congestion pricing.

Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a fake $15 billion check while calling on the MTA to move forward with congestion pricing on July 20, 2021. (credit: CBS2)

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The mayor presented the MTA with a fake $15 billion check Tuesday, saying that implementing congestion pricing would effectively invest that same amount into the city’s mass transit.

“If we want to fix the horrible flooding that we saw last week, if we want to make sure the signals are fixed so the trains actually can move, if you want modern stations, here it is, staring us in the face,” de Blasio said.

Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio Calls On MTA To Move Forward With Congestion Pricing

The mayor said congestion pricing, which would charge drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street, would also free Midtown from gridlock and help the planet.

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That represents a dramatic turnaround from just four years ago, when he scoffed at proposals to electronically charge vehicles a fee.

De Blasio said he wants the MTA to name appointees to the Traffic Mobility Review Board, and finish the environmental review on the impacts of congestion pricing.

“There is a federally-required process. The MTA is following that detailed process which doesn’t allow arbitrarily cutting corners. An environmental assessment is complicated and we are working through issues with the Federal Highway Administration and our partners at the New York City and New York State Departments of Transportation,” said Ken Lovett, the MTA’s senior advisor on congestion pricing. “As we have said repeatedly, the Central Business District Tolling Program will be a huge environmental benefit for the region while also providing a major boost to mass transit, and we’re working diligently to implement it as soon as possible.”

When asked if he believes the MTA when it says it’s making progress on congestion pricing and working diligently, Tom Wright of the Regional Plan Association told CBS2’s Tony Aiello, “I think that we want to see a little more transparency. It would be great to know when we’re going start to see … what the timeline is going to be and what the process will be, but I know that the leadership at the MTA is very supportive of this.”

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The MTA says it cannot yet answer key questions, including how much drivers will pay or when congestion pricing will begin.

Tony Aiello