Updated 08/27/2012 06:45 PM
Business Leaders Speak Out Against Potential Thruway Toll Hike
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Right now, the tolls on a trip from Buffalo to New York City with a three-axle truck cost $88 on the New York State Thruway.
If the Thruway Authority enacts a proposed 45 percent hike on commercial vehicles, that number jumps to $127 – one way.
"And we feel like that's unacceptable,” said John Batiste.
Batiste, CEO of Klein Steel, says that amounts to at least $40,000 in additional tolls for his 21 trucks.
"It really is outrageous."
Batiste and others spoke out against the hike.
“This is not politics, this is merit,” said State Sen. Joe Robach.
Robach says the increase would hit more than just trucking companies.
"Even if you're not affected by this, the cost you'll pay for goods will be affected if this goes through,” said Robach, (R).
Steve Wadhams: "For us, our incentive unfortunately is to get our trucks out of state, into New Jersey where the taxes and fuel cost is much cheaper. Not good for New York State,” said Steve Wadhams, Wadhams Enterprises.
The Thruway Authority says the increase, which one official called "modest," is needed to keep the authority fiscally sound. If approved, the hike would be implemented in October.
Tolls on the Thruway have gone up five times in the last seven years. The governor has said past administrations mismanaged the Thruway. The Authority says trucks should pay more, because they cause the most wear and tear to the highway. The state Comptroller has suggested the Thruway Authority look elsewhere for savings.
"We would expect the New York Thruway Authority to balance expenses and revenue before they come to companies like Klein Steel and increase prices,” said Batiste.
"I would like to see the Thruway Authority, quite frankly, merge with DOT so we could do a little bit more with a little bit less and not take more money from businesses or people driving on the Thruway,” said Robach.
When it was built, all tolls on the Thruway were supposed to disappear once construction bonds were paid off. That happened in 1996. Local leaders know tolls won't go away. They hope they don't go up – again.
"We have to fight this," said Robach.