County, businesses to file suit against New York Thruway about tolls

| 2/28/2006

In what could prove to be a precedent-setting case, county officials and private businesses near Buffalo, NY, have banded together in a lawsuit against the New York Thruway Authority, claiming the Thruway’s tollbooths have cost the area economic development.

Erie County Executive Joel Giambra and local businessman Carl Paladino have teamed up to file a lawsuit against the Thruway, alleging that the South Ogden and Breckenridge toll booths on Interstate 90 discourage economic growth in downtown Buffalo, according to Newsday.

Originally, tolls on the road were to end after the original bonds that funded the project were paid off in 1996. However, Thruway officials later changed that and said users of the road, not all of the state’s taxpayers, should pay for its upkeep.

According to Buffalo Business First, the two toll booths – which were added in 1956 and are the only booths on the entire toll road that charge a fee to enter a city’s downtown area – generate $11 million in revenue each year, but only cost the Thruway about $4 million to operate.

Paladino has even vowed to spend $35,000 of his own money on the lawsuit.

“It’s time to go to the courts and ruffle some feathers,” Paladino told Business First. “We’ve been hearing the booths are coming down for the past 30 years. They are truly a barrier to development in our city.”