CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — For roughly the next month, people across New York State will have the opportunity to weigh in on proposed toll hikes for the Thruway.
The Thruway Authority has revealed plans to keep tolls on I-90 unchanged through the remainder of this year but bring them up starting in 2024. They say it would be the “first toll adjustment for system-wide NY E-ZPass customers since 2010.”
“These are modust increases to help us maintain and operate and build on the thruway. It is modust increases compared to any other state in the Northeast,” Frank Hoare, interim executive director of the New York State Thruway Authority, explained. “No tax dollars go toward supporting the thruway. It all comes from our toll revenue.”
Here’s how they broke it down: System-wide toll rate adjustments would take place on January 1, 2024 and January 1, 2027. NY E-ZPass rates would increase by five percent from their prior levels.
“Currently 4.5 cents per mile will increase to 4.9 cents per mile in 2027,” the Thruway Authority noted.
For non-NY E-ZPass users and those who pay tolls by mail, standard toll rates would increase to 8.6 cents per mile by 2027. Currently, the rate is 5.1 cents per mile for passenger vehicles.
The increased toll revenue will go toward updating the infrastructure, including the road beds and bridges.
“You gotta maintain that system in a safe and reliable way. The roadbed of the thruway, which was constructed in the 50s, has largely been untouched since the 50s. We have over 800 bridges that are in need of repair and updating,” Hoare added.
MORE | See the full proposal here.
With a series of graphs comparing tolls across the U.S., the Thruway Authority argues that New York will still have some of the lowest toll rates in the northeastern quadrant of the country, comparing the I-90 to more expensive routes like the Chicago Skyway, and the Dulles Greenway and Chesapeake Expressway in Virginia.
“The Thruway is a user-fee supported roadway and receives no federal, state, or local tax dollars,” the state says.
Public hearings on the toll proposals are set to take place in Cheektowaga, Syracuse, West Nyack and Glenmont, as well as virtually.
A session was held in Cheektowaga at the Thruway Authority’s Buffalo Division Headquarters (455 Cayuga Rd.) on Monday evening. A few residents voiced concerns about the toll hike for non-EZPass users.
“I feel 75 percent because I don’t want an EZ-Pass is an extreme amount. I do understand that there needs to be increases, but I feel like I’m being penalized,” Paula A. Martin of Niagara Falls said. “Everytime something is not right, the public suffers.”
“As little as I use the thruway, I was a little upset with how much they wanted to charge people without an EZ-Pass. First of all I think 30 percent is a rip off and 75 percent is even worse,” Charles Dickinson, a nearby resident, added.
Others were in support of the toll hike.
“The toll freeze that has been implemented has certainly hampered investment in the system. There’s been a 37 percent decrease in the capital program from 2012 to 2022,” Frank DelSignore of Grand Island added.
The virtual session, which will be streamed at this link, will take place on June 5, also from 4 to 7 p.m.
Those unable to attend a session can also submit their comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to the following address:
c/o Legal Department
New York State Thruway Authority
200 Southern Blvd.
P.O. Box 189
Albany, NY 12201-0189
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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.