The New York State Thruway Authority announced yesterday that is has dropped its controversial plan to hike tolls 45% on commercial vehicles having more than three axles.
Tolls on the 641-mile Interstate turnpike running from Buffalo to New York City were last raised two years ago. Had the 45% hike gone through, the toll for a three-axle truck going from Buffalo to NYC would have gone from about $88 to $127.
Jumping the truck toll 45% would have raised some $85 million annually.
“After working with Governor [Andrew] Cuomo [D] and his administration to find additional cost saving measures and permanent reforms, today I will present the Thruway Board of Directors with a new cost saving plan that does not include any toll hike,” saidThomas Madison, Executive Director of the NYS Thruway Authority, yesterday.He added that the proposed 2013 operating budget for the Authority is 21% below that of 2012.
To trim the budget and not increase tolls next year, Madison said the “Thruway Authority has begun to implement plans to eliminate poor fiscal practices, make transformative operational changes, and generate long-term cost savings.”
Back in May, per an NBCNewYork.com news report, the Thruway Authority board said the 45% hike in truck tolls was necessary to help pay for repairs and improve finances as the State prepared to replace the severely aging Tappan Zee Bridge, which opened in 1955. Spanning the Hudson River at one of its widest points, the Tappan Zee is the longest bridge in New York State. It is sited about 25 miles north of New York City and carries over it Interstate 87 and Interstate 287. The bridge is a key east-west link between New York State and New England.
The Thruway Authority killed the toll hike in the face of withering opposition by trucking lobbies, most notably the New York State Motor Truck Assn. (NYSMTA) and the Truck Renting & Leasing Assn. (TRALA), along with the “Unshackle Upstate” business group and Republican officeholders.
"The hike would have devastated the entire state's economy and nullified any attempts by the governor and the legislature to make New York 'open for business,'" said Kendra Hems, executive director of NYSMTA, according to NBCNewYork.com.
“TRALA believes the Thruway Authority made the correct decision to not increase toll fares for trucks, because TRALA members are some of the most heavily-taxed businesses in New York, we don't believe that the burden of funding transportation infrastructure development and maintenance should fall unfairly on the commercial truck transportation industry, and the proposal would have multiplied the costs of TRALA member companies being held liable for toll violations committed by their customers while operating a rented or leased truck,” the association said in a new release.
“All of these things combined with increased toll prices for the trucking industry would have resulted in increased costs for the end users—the small businesses and consumers in New York,” TRALA added.