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Proposed Thruway toll hike draws concern at public hearing

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Albany/HV: Proposed Thruway toll hike draws concern at public hearing
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A series of public hearings discussing a toll hike on the Thruway wrapped up in Newburgh. As YNN’s Venise Toussaint tells us, Thruway officials traveled across the state gathering opinions on the proposed increase and many from the trucking industry raised similar concerns.

NEWBURGH, N.Y. -- A proposed 45 percent toll hike on the state Thruway draws stark opposition from trucking and manufacturing companies who say the increase would hurt business.

“We understand there are cost increases in business, but to ask for 45 percent at one time is mind boggling,” said Tom Connery, Chief Operations Officer for New England Motor Freight.

The New York State Thruway Authority is proposing the hike to help pay off $800 million in debt. Thruway officials say trucks cause considerably more damage to roads so they should contribute more money to keep the roads safe.

The proposed increase would generate $85 million a year for the Thruway Authority.

“The proposed toll adjustment is meant to cover our costs of maintaining and rebuilding an aging piece of infrastructure,” said NYS Thruway Authority Chief of Staff Tom Ryan.

The 45 percent hike would only affect large trucks with three or more axles. The current toll rate for a three axle truck traveling from Buffalo to New York City is about $88. That amount could jump to $127

“We’re going to have to generate about $25,000 in additional sales in a declining market. It’s tough,” said VP of Wesseles Farm, Edward Fairweather.

Trucking companies say the increase would not only drive up costs for consumer goods, it would also force them to look into alternative routes, which could mean more truck traffic on local roads.

“If the 45 percent increase goes through, I can assure you that we will run far less miles on the Thruway, which is going to impact their revenue projections,” Connery said.

“This toll adjustment provides the revenue to do all of those things we’re required to do and still maintain a safe and efficient highway system for the users of the state,” Ryan said.

If passed, the toll would go into effect later this year.

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