GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. — With the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend approaching, many of our neighbors from north of the border are expected to travel into the United States.
A number of them will be traveling on Interstate 190, which crosses Grand Island near Buffalo.
Unless they have an EZ-Pass, it appears they will continue to be allowed to do so, for free.
Canadians used to pay the same fare at the Grand Island toll booths as American motorists prior to the spring of 2018, when the New York State Thruway Authority installed a cashless tolling system instead.
However, when it did so, it did so without any agreement with the Canadian Government, to link the license plates of Canadian vehicle's registered owner in order to mail them a bill.
In other words, the Thruway has no way to reach across the border and collect.
The Lieutenant Governor of New York indicated that it may have the means to do soon.
“There absolutely is,” said Kathy Hochul, when asked if there might be a breakthrough in what has amounted to roughly year and a half long standoff between authorities in New York state and those in Ontario and Quebec Canada.
“I look forward to the day very soon when I can tell you that this has been resolved and it’s an important issue for people to know there is fairness,” Hochul said.
Watch interview with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul:
A Thruway Authority source also indicated there may be an agreement soon.
However, in a statement, a spokesman for the Ontario Transportation Ministry only said, “The Ministry of Transportation continues to discuss this issue with our counterparts in New York State. As of yet, no data-sharing agreement has been reached.”
The sought for agreement has not been easy according to Hochul.
“It was far more complicated than anyone could imagine, dealing with a foreign government,” said Hochul. “There’s not just one point of contact here wither.. We’re dealing with the Canadian government, the governments of Ontario and Quebec, and it’s much bigger than we anticipated. But the Thruway Authority has been working diligently on this and I’m going to say that there will be an answer very shortly.”
New York Might Want to 'Step On It'
The Thruway Authority couldn’t tell us how much money it may have lost to Canadian motorists zipping through Grand Island for free in the last year and a half, so o we don’t know how substantial the sum may be.
However, the sum figures to be substantially more if the Thruway - as planned, converts its entire system to cashless tolling by the end of next year, without an agreement in place.
What About the 407?
Some viewers have asked us about Highway 407, a Canadian toll expressway which many Western New Yorkers take in order to avoid heavy traffic in the Toronto metro when they traveling to Lester Pearson International Airport.
American motorists who avail themselves of the 407 can expect to receive a letter in the mail asking them to pay up.
We are told that the difference is that the 407, unlike the Thruway, is managed by a private operator, which therefore has the ability (without a formal cross border international agreement) to bill American drivers.