The Interstate 190 tolls were a passionate cause for Buffalo commuters in 2005. They thought it unfair that they were the only upstate residents who had to pay a New York State Thruway toll to enter their city. The money, they argued, didn't even stay in Buffalo. It was sent downstate to pay for maintenance of Interstate 84.
State legislators didn't respond to complaints. The derisively named Western New York Commuter Tax remained. In 2005, Mr. Paladino got involved. . . .
Mr. Paladino had told his lawyer, “Find me a bulletproof case.” The smoking gun was a decades-old law mandating that tolls be removed when the original bonds for that portion of the Thruway were repaid. That had happened in 1996. Mr. Paladino sued, and the state Thruway Authority removed the tolls.The Thruway Tolls are a tax on anything that moves by truck between the major cities of Upstate New York. That puts businesses that ship by truck in main line Upstate cities at a competitive disadvantage to those in places such as Tennessee which have no tolls on their interstate highways.
“I think those experiences illustrate our capabilities,” Mr. Paladino says. “I'm a very determined person. I will do my homework. I will learn all the facts best I can. There's no challenge I can't take on.”
Those original Thruway bonds have been paid off for us in Utica, Rome, Amsterdam, Syracuse and Rochester, too. It's time to do away with the Thruway Authority and the Tolls.
It's time to take steps that make Upstate New York competitive again.