Could big changes be on the way at New York Tollway Authority?

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, December 03, 2012

With a hefty toll increase on the New York Thruway looming for truckers, a state lawmaker is calling for change.

Thruway officials are considering boosting toll taxes for large trucks by 45 percent. The increase would amount to charging nearly $130 for a five-axle truck to travel from Buffalo to New York City – up from $88.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, said the proposed price hike would be the fifth increase in less than a decade. He pointed out that the Thruway increased tolls four times in its first 50 years.

“The Thruway Authority is not working. It’s not working for taxpayers, motorists, trucking companies or New York being open for business,” Kolb said in a statement.

To help solve problems he sees at the agency Kolb introduced a bill that would change how business is done and save money. Among the changes sought is merging the Thruway with the state Department of Transportation.

Additional changes include the creation of a new Thruway Authority board whose members would be required to have “transportation expertise.” In addition, the state DOT commissioner would serve as the board’s chair.

Regular audits of the Thruway’s finances would also be done.

“Clearly, the problems at the Authority are so severe, the lack of accountability so systemic, the fiscal irresponsibility so breathtaking, we need to hit the reset button and start over,” Kolb stated.

Addressing concerns about the latest proposed toll increase, Kolb’s changes would include a requirement that any proposed toll hikes – and the reason for the requested changes – be clearly identified in the state DOT’s budget.

OOIDA Senior Member Terry Button of Rushville said the bill is a good first step, but still more needs to be done to help solve problems. Specifically, he referred to truckers paying the same amount of money to access the roadway despite often significant differences in truck weight.

“New York needs to adopt the same policy as other states that have people pay appropriately for what they’re doing to the road,” Button told Land Line. “Otherwise, they’re just spinning their wheels.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for New York, click here.

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