Local Lawmakers Want Canal System Separate from Thruway Authority
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Three members of the state legislature say it's time for the Thruway Authority to detach itself from the canal system, and save itself $90 million and avoid a toll increase.
"Back in May, the Thruway Authority Board of Directors is considering a plan to raise tolls on three-axle vehicles by 45 percent. “What the Thruway Authority has described as a “modest” toll increase, we call unacceptable. The State has made significant strides the past two years to reform state government and repair the state’s reputation as hostile to private business; any proposal to hike Thruway tolls on private businesses will be detrimental to small businesses and local farms, and only further hinder New York’s economic recovery,” said Senator Patrick Gallivan.
"The Thruway Authority has increased tolls four times in the past seven years, with little examination of their own administrative and operational costs,” said Senator Mark Grisanti. “Another increase on tractor-trailers – especially one as steep as 45 percent – will only serve to raise the cost of consumer goods being shipped in New York State while forcing local governments to raise taxes to repair local roads that will be see increased use as trucks inevitably seek alternative routes to save costs.”
"The rising costs of tolls could ultimately place heavy burdens on businesses and could have a negative impact on a business’s long-term sustainability," Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak said. "We should be looking for ways to make it more affordable to do business in New York State – not make it more expensive."
Their solution is to give control of the canal system to the Department of Transportation.
“The canal system is a historical treasure, and a major economic development tool and recreational tourist attraction for many communities that dot its course,” said Senator Grisanti. “But at a time when the Thruway Authority is seriously considering hiking tolls for the fifth time in seven years, I believe the administrative and cost responsibility of the canal system should shift to a state agency that has more experience in efficiently managing the state’s diverse array of physical infrastructure.”
Senators Gallivan and Grisanti sent a formal letter to the Chairman of the Thruway Authority, Howard Milstein, calling on the Thruway Authority’s board to endorse their proposal and agree to bridge any remaining budget gap through cost savings, not toll increases, at their September board meeting.
“The Thruway Authority needs to examine every way imaginable to cut costs and avoid a toll hike, I hope today signifies that the legislature can be a willing partner to help achieve the savings necessary to accomplish this,” concluded Gallivan.