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Hell’s Kitchen activist Christine Berthet has fought to reclaim 9th Avenue from “the hellish Lincoln Tunnel traffic” for over 40 years. Now Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer has asked New York Governor Kathy Hochul to appoint Berthet to the congestion pricing Traffic Mobility Review Board (TMRB).
The creation of the six-person board is critical to getting the congestion pricing scheme below 60th Street in Manhattan underway but it has been delayed since April 2019 by political wrangling and inaction from the MTA.
At this point, NYC Department of Finance Commissioner Sherif Soliman is the only name that looks certain to be on the board. In July this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio made clear to the MTA that Soliman would be his appointee to the TMRB. The board comprises a chair and five members. One member will be the recommendation of the Mayor of NYC, one a Metro-North Region resident and another is from the Long Island Rail Road Region.
The Borough President requested and recommended in her letter to Hochul, that she “nominate Berthet, a long-standing leader in the Manhattan community, to the TMRB.”
Brewer outlined Berthet’s credentials for the role — including being the former Chair of Community Board 4, currently the planning chair at Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Alliance and founder of CHEKPEDS (a non-profit to stop the gridlock, improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists and demand clean air.)
“Christine Berthet is able to hear a diverse array of viewpoints, treat them with the respect they deserve, and distill them into sound policy and tangible results. Christine has rightfully earned respect, even amongst those who disagree with her. Christine Berthet would be an excellent addition to the TMRB,” Brewer concluded her letter.
One of Berthet’s many achievements is creating crashmapper.org which keeps track of crashes, injuries and fatalities in the five boroughs.
Berthet told W42ST: “I am humbled by this nomination. Congestion pricing is of the utmost importance for the city in terms of congestion, air quality and safety. London experienced a 14% reduction in crashes after implementing congestion pricing.”
When the board is finally formed, it will make recommendations on costs for drivers entering the congestion zone, along with any discounts or exemptions. However, ultimately the MTA will have the final say. Members of the TMRB will serve without compensation.