The New York Thruway Authority proposes to raise tolls in June. Authority chief John Platt told the state Assembly's Transportation Committee that without the increase, the authority would fall $216 million short of what it needs to pay off debt and pay for maintenance and construction during the next six years.
The authority has only increased its operating budget 1% since 1994, Platt said, but it needs more money so it can improve safety and relieve congestion along the Thruway. The authority wants to raise tolls this summer by roughly 3%. Toll increases in following years would be tied to construction costs.
Trucking industry representatives weren't happy about the idea. Carl Hasselback, president of Jim's Truck Plaza in Cheektowaga, said toll increases are nothing less than tax increases, saying it will drive businesses to other states.
Trucking industry officials are also unhappy about the fact that the authority spends $55 million to $60 million a year running and maintaining the state's canal system, with money paid for by highway users.
The toll increase proposal has been the subject of heated political debate.