Truckers voiced their opposition to a 45% toll hike on commercial trucks proposed by the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) at a public hearing Aug. 18. The toll hikes will apply only to vehicles will three or more axles, which a Thruway official said “do the most damage to the highway.”

If implemented, the toll hike would increase the cost of a trip from Buffalo to Albany by about $20 and trip from Buffalo to New York City by about $40, NYSTA Chief of Staff Thomas Ryan said.

In justifying focusing the toll hike only on heavy trucks, the Thruway Authority claims that three-plus axle trucks cause 10,000 times more wear and tear on the roadway than passenger vehicles, and only pay five times the toll rate.

About 50 people showed up at a hearing held in the town of Newburgh, including representatives from trucking companies, according to a Hudson News report. One trucking representative called the move to raise tolls on trucks a “financial band-aid” and said the proposal is “not a toll, but in fact a tax increase.”

It will be fleet customers who will subsidize the toll hike, said Michael Campo, area vice president of sales for U.S. Xpress.

“The 45% toll increase represents just over $498,000 in increased costs that we’ll be passing on to our customers. An increase of this magnitude will undoubtedly place hardships on many of our customers and ultimately the end user of the product being transferred.”

“The Thruway is nearly 60 years old… the capital needs of both the pavement and bridges are very substantial,” said Ryan. “It is vital that we do the kind of major reconstruction that has already started in many sections.”

The toll board is expected to vote and approve the toll adjustment next month.