Monday, September 27, 2010

Boost Upstate - Remove the Tolls

From an article in Crain's New York about the "accidental candidate" for governor, Carl Paladino, comes this bit of information. . . .
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.

“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.”
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.  

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.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amen!

Dave said...

Nah! Look at all the money we get from everyone passing through!
Clearly, someone could do an analysis of costs and benefits, and probably has. I'd wait to see it before casting my vote.

swimmy said...

But who, will sue on behalf of Utica, Rome, Verona, Syracuse, Rochester, et al?

Surely not the politicians who feed from the state trough.

Silence Dogood said...

I can't agree with you more. But that is why they took over the canal for another reason to continue the tolls. Go get them Mr. Paladino or I will have to find all the non toll roads when I leave the state in 8 years

Anonymous said...

And if the tolls are removed, who will pay to maintain the highway? State taxpayers, some who don't use it, that's who. What will happen is this. The state will raise the gasoline tax to raise revenue to pay for maintenance of the Thruway. And if the Authority is abolished, who takes on the Authority's debt? State taxpayer's! Watch what u wish for. You may get it.

Strikeslip said...

The cost of maintaining the Thruway will have to be paid for like the cost of I-81, I-88, I-390, I-86/NY17, I-495 (Long Island), and I-87 (N of Albany). Eliminating toll-takers, Cost of EZ-pass lanes/equipment, and a huge Authority Bureaucracy will be $ saved with no impact on the average NY citizen. Main-line Upstate NY will be put on a transportation par with other parts of the state served by free interstates, and most other states. While NY will lose the revenue of some traffic forced to use the Thruway, it should gain other traffic with reduced costs.

Anonymous said...

That's correct, the cost of maintaining the Thruway will have to be paid for. With higher gasoline taxes. No impact on the average citizen? How about driver's that don't use the Thruway, but will be paying for it thru higher taxes? I use the Thruway on average about 10 times a yr., which cost me a pittance in tolls. But, I'll be paying for it every time I visit a gas pump if you're idea is adopted. The Thruway is a user paid for interstate, which is the way it should be. And you're arguement that economic development will blossom if the tolls are eliminated is pure hog wash. The Thruway tolls didn't seem to deter development 40 yrs. ago, when this area was thriving.

Strikeslip said...

I really have to differ with you Anonymous. Forty Years Ago the Tolls did not seem to make a difference to the local economy because the National Interstate Highway System was still under construction and Utica was a Thriving area BEFORE the road was built (I remember those days). After most of the rest of the country got FREE interstates, we in Upstate New York lost our competitive edge.

We've been in decline ever since.

No, I don't think removing the tolls will make the area blossom . . . but I do think that as long as this country moves in trucks and automobiles, there is no possibility this area ever blossoming as long as the tolls remain in place.

A "pittance in tolls" for someone traveling the Thruway 10 times a year becomes a huge cost to a business that ships goods or raw materials every day. If memory serves me, there are several auto manufacturing plants in Tenessee located along their FREE interstate. If a company wanted to, say, assemble in one plant and paint in another, the free road provides flexibility.

The tolls are a significant cost of doing business in New York that needs to be removed.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so remove the tolls. And when gasoline taxes go up, the businesses that ship raw materials every day will do what? Who will be the "whipping boy" be then? We're damned if we do, damned if we don't.

Strikeslip said...

New York State has to precisely identify WHY its gasoline taxes are so much higher than those of other states. It is certainly NOT because most of our interstate highways are Toll Free.

Are motorists subsidizing public transit in NYC through their gas taxes?