Thruway Postpones Meeting Again on Toll Hike Vote

8:18 AM, Nov 13, 2012   |    comments
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The Williamsville toll barrier.

BUFFALO, NY-  According to their website, the New York State Thruway Authority has postponed a meeting where board members were expected to vote on proposed toll hike for some commercial vehicles.

This is the second time in a week they've cancelled the meeting.  It's unknown if they have rescheduled the vote for another day.

Sources in state government tell 2 on Your Side, Friday's Thruway Authority meeting was abruptly cancelled because Governor Cuomo didn't want to deal with the fallout from a toll hike at the same time he was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

While this vote won't impact regular drivers at the booth, many say it's bad for business and will trickle down to consumers in terms of what they pay for goods moved by truck, like groceries.

Right now a trip for trucks from Albany to the Williamsville tolls is about $66. If the 45% toll hike goes through the same trip would cost $96.

We asked Thruway Authority Vice-Chairwoman, Donna Luh, which trucks would actually be affected

"Right now we're looking at 3 axle," said Luh.

What type of 3 axle vehicles? Well Luh, who represents Western New York on the Thruway Authority board, didn't have any answers.
So we did some digging and found the Thruway Authority's proposal specifically states "For certain classes of customers (passenger vehicles- classes 2L, 3L, 4L, commercial vehicles- class 2H) existing toll rates will remain unchanged."

Classes 2L, 3L, and 4L, are all vehicles under 7'6" and have 2 axles, 3 axles, and 4 axles respectively. Class 2H is a commercial vehicle 7'6" or higher and has 2 axles.

A Thruway Authority spokesman said by phone, the increase would only affect commercial trucks with 3 axles or more, and not private trailers, boat trailers, or campers.

This proposed hike is geared specifically toward commercial tractor trailers, and their added costs will likely trickle down to what we pay in the store.

"A 45% increase, that's gonna hurt a lot of people and consumers," said Steve Herbert, a milk truck driver from Batavia. "Fuel's the biggest problem. Now you've got the tolls going up. It's going to be insane."

Luh says there will be six people voting Tuesday and a majority is needed for toll hike to pass. And what if it's 3 in favor and 3 against?

"That would be interesting," said Luh.

Luh couldn't say how a hypothetical tie would be broken but she said she doesn't think the votes will break down that way anyhow.

And how does Luh expect to vote?

"We have to see how the vote is exactly," she responded. "I will vote what's good for the authority and what's not hard hitting on the farmers and the drivers."

Critics say the Thruway Authority should look at its own finances before voting for a hike. Speficially, state comptroller Tom DiNapoli says it should collect millions in unpaid EZ Pass tolls, consolidate its own operations, and cut costs in the state's Canal System.

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