WEEHAWKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – It’s an explosive move by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in the already contentious battle over congestion pricing.

Murphy is now threatening to use the Port Authority as a bargaining tool to keep New Jersey drivers from paying more.

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As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reports, the traffic getting in and out of the city is a pain – almost a kinship – felt by commuters from both New York and New Jersey. But now the possibility of a double toll on the so-called “bridge and tunnel” crowd through congestion pricing, it’s even worse for those on the Jersey side.

So Murphy is going into his arsenal, and threatening the so-called “nuclear option.” It’s one of the few, but extremely powerful, points of leverage the Garden State governor has over New York – a tool to essentially freeze any activity at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that oversees the area’s major airports and some of the most robust transit and shipping on the East Coast.

During a “meet the candidates” event Thursday in Morris County, Murphy was asked about the MTA plan that could charge New Jersey drivers up to $23 more to come into Manhattan south of 60th Street.

Murphy reminded people he has “methods” to use against his New York counterparts, including vetoing minutes of the Port Authority, which could essentially stop the agency’s board from making decisions, thrusting budgets, business and contracts into chaos.

It would be a big, bold move, especially during an election year, and certainly drives home his point that congestion pricing is unfair to New Jersey residents. Former Gov. Chris Christie threatened to use it once, but did not go through with it.

A Murphy spokesperson said Friday “the governor will explore every possible avenue to prevent New Jerseyans from being double tolled as part of any congestion pricing scheme, including the governor’s oversight of Port Authority minutes.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul did not take any hard stance on this whatsoever Friday, saying only, “We will continue to work with stakeholders and our partners in government to implement congestion pricing effectively and efficiently.”

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Mayor Bill de Blasio was also asked about the Murphy threat on the radio Friday.

“I think we can strike the balance, so I imagine he is standing up for his constituents, but I also believe he’s a very reasonable person, that we could all work together to find a solution,” de Blasio said.

It’s hard to tell if this pre-election talk from Murphy or whether he would go ahead and take that action, Layton reported.

The Port Authority had no comment.

Meanwhile, Connecticut residents got the chance to voice their opinions during a virtual MTA public comment hearing. Some expressed support for the plan, citing climate change, while others claimed it would have unintended consequences, like increased cost for consumers.

“To me, it’s one of the most egregious, anti-business proposals that has ever been put forth,” business owner David Starman said.

“Congestion pricing will fail if there are too many carve-outs. Everyone needs to pay their fair share for driving,” Stamford resident Dice Oh said.

The MTA scheduled ten public hearings as part of an extensive review process required by the federal government.

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Jessica Layton contributed to this report. Editor’s note: This story was first published Oct. 1.

CBSNewYork Team