GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. - Tens of thousands times a day drivers stop, pay and go as they make their way through Grand Island on Interstate 190. Tolls to use the highway have been a way of life for decades.
But once again elected officials, business leaders and Grand Island residents are pressing the state to take the toll barriers down.
“I realize something that’s been there for 80-years, does not change over night,” says Nate McMurray Grand Island town supervisor.
McMurray led one of two new conferences today essentially calling for one of two options with the tolls. Either eliminate them completely or move to so-called cashless-tolling which allows tolls to be paid through E-Z Pass while traveling at speed.
I say cashless-tolling now as a first step. I also want a better idea where that toll money goes,” says McMurray.
State Senator Chris Jacobs has similar questions.
“Millions of dollars that are generated here by the nearly 60-thousand cars a day,” says Jacobs.
Jacobs says that’s a guess because he has not received information he requested on how much money the Grand Island tolls take in annual. Jacobs and Assemblyman Angelo Morinello are pushing legislation to eliminate the tolls.
After a joint news-conference by the two lawmakers, the Thruway Authority offered some information on the revenue generated at the Grand Island tolls. In 2015, the authority says some $18,400,000 was collected. The agency also says tolls paid by either Grand Island residents or commuters accounted for some $2,300,000, which is about 12-percent of the total.
A spokeswoman of the Thruway Authority also says in the past six-years plus, $106,000,000 has been poured into repairs and maintenance of the bridges. But no documentation was offered to show how that money was spent.