GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) — Each day, thousands of cars cross the bridge to Grand Island.
“If you look at Western New York, Grand Island is a keystone that connects the north and the south,” said Nathan McMurray, the Grand Island supervisor. He’s only been in office for a few months but he’s already shaking things up and trying to make changes.
“The tolls aren’t going anywhere,” said McMurray. “We need that revenue. Just like any tax, once that tax is in place, it’s hard to get rid of it but I want to get rid of it.”
He is proposing the state removes the tolls travelers must pay to cross the bridge.
“It’s not fair that our community is kept in a prison of tolls,” said McMurray.
He said the money, which he estimates to be several millions, the bridge brings in through tolls each year doesn’t stay in Western New York.
“The problem is that’s a stream of revenue for New York state,” said the supervisor. “It’ll be hard to claw that money back. When people see these bridges they feel a sense of dread.”
“If I have to go there, I have to go but I would rather not stop and look for change in my cup holder,” said Michael Jackson, a Buffalo resident who rarely travels across the bridge but supports the proposal to eliminate the toll. “It would make the bridge traffic slow a lot smoother.”
Smooth, free traveling is something commuters are hopeful will happen if the tolls are eliminated.
“Anywhere you’re kind of driving and you hit a toll, it’s always an inconvenience,” said Nick Marzane, a manager at Brick Oven, a restaurant on the island. “Would it be better if they weren’t there, sure.”
Marzane lives off the island, through commuting to work five days a week, he estimates he’s spending around $20 on tolls. That’s money he’d like to spend other ways and that’s why he’s standing and supporting the supervisor’s proposal.
“I would rather spend that on my kids than on the tolls,” said Marzane.
“These tolls are not fair,” said McMurray who is looking for support. “If we push back and we push back hard, eventually theyll go.”
After 15 hours on Twitter, a News 4 poll showed that an overwhelming 89 percent of voters think the Grand Island bridge tolls should be eliminated.