Truckers and four-wheelers alike were honking their horns
Monday on the New York State Thruway near Buffalo, celebrating the closure of
the two toll booths that had made Buffalo the only big city in the state that
you had to pay to get into.
The tolls at the Breckenridge and Ogden toll barriers on
Interstate 190 dropped from 75 cents to nothing after Republicans in the state
Senate approved last week the use of $14 million to make up for the booths'
lost revenues. The tolls were expected to take up to two weeks to be removed,
but came down about a week early.
The money will come from a larger pork-barrel fund that is
allocated into the state's budget each year, the Buffalo News reported.
However, since the allocation of the fund must be decided each year, the
permanent removal of the tolls - and the toll booths themselves - is still
In February, Erie County Executive Joel Giambra and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino banded together in a lawsuit against the New York State
Thruway Authority, alleging that the I-190 toll booths have stunted economic
growth in downtown Buffalo. As of press time, there had been no decision in
Then, in July, U.S. Representative Brian Higgins, D-NY,
promised to introduce a bill in the House that would withhold federal highway
funding from the Thruway Authority if the tolls were not removed.
Higgins, a Buffalo native and member of the House
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the tolls force truck traffic
and local commuters in the city to pay for all 641 miles of the Thruway's
"There are 25 highways in upstate New York linking urban and
suburban communities with the Thruway, but there's only one toll road, that
being the I-190 running through Buffalo," Higgins told Land Line earlier
Originally, tolls on all 641 miles of the Thruway were to
end in 1996, after the original bonds that funded the project were paid off.
However, Thruway officials later changed that and said users of the road, not
all of the state's taxpayers, should pay for its upkeep.
- By Aaron Ladage, staff editor