By Joseph Spector
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY - The state Thruway Authority is expected to meet Friday for first full meeting in three months, when the board is likely to approve a major toll increase on trucks.
The authority in May proposed a 45-percent toll increase on truck traffic, and since then the authority has been derided for the proposal by lawmakers and businesses.
Dan Weiller, a spokesman for the Thruway Authority, said Thursday there is no agenda yet for the Friday meeting in Suffern, Rockland County.
The authority, which oversees the 570-mile thoroughfare, had told credit agencies that it expected the toll increase to take effect in September, but the authority delayed action. And now it's meeting three days after Election Day.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not indicated whether he supports the toll increase.
"It is a difficult financial problem each way. No one wants a toll increase. But nobody wants a downgrade to the Thruway bonds either," Cuomo said in September.
The Thruway's finances are troubled. Toll-paying riders dropped about 10 percent from 2005 to 2011, and its costs have increased substantially.
A 45 percent toll increase would raise about $85 million a year for the Thruway. It pays a similar amount to operate and maintain the state's 524-mile canal system.
Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has knocked the Thruway's management, saying in a report in August that the agency painted a rosy financial picture for too long and didn't cut expenses despite four toll hikes since 2005.
Kendra Adams, executive director of the state Motor Truck Association, said the Thruway Authority hasn't given an indication of what it will do Friday.
"Based on what we've heard, the statement that they've made, we're preparing for the worst," Adams said.