NYS Thruway Authority proposes an increase in tolls
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. The New York State Thruway Authority is proposing an increase in tolls.
The Thruway Authority will be asking its board to approve a toll hike that would begin in 2024. The state’s E-Zpass customers would see an increase of 5% in 2024 and another increase of 5% in 2027. The toll hike would be 75% for those without an E-Zpass or with one from out of state.
How will that impact your bottom line? Say you get on the Thruway at 490 in Victor and travel to Interstate 81 in Syracuse. With an E-Zpass, the trip will cost you $3.04 right now and $3.19 in 2024. But without an E-Zpass, the $3.95 trip today will cost almost $7 each way, come 2024.
Commercial trucking companies are poised to feel the impact most. Leonard’s Express Inc. in Farmington tells News10NBC it has been bracing for an increase.
“Honestly, we were expecting it,” says Marketing Manager Shannon Struzik. “The tolls have been frozen for many years now and through 2023 so, it really was from a company standpoint and from an industry standpoint, we were expecting an increase,” she says.
All things considered, “We do think it’s fair,” Struzik adds. “We think it’s a fair amount and obviously a fair cost for both trucks and cars that are going to be supporting that increase”
The Thruway Authority said it needs the increase to help update aging infrastructure. More than 85 of the 815 bridges along the superhighway will need to be replaced in the next 10 years.
In a statement, a spokesperson says, “The Thruway Authority is putting forth a proposal to begin the public process to adjust toll rates at its Monday meeting of the Board of Directors. Here are the facts behind the proposal: Tolls remain frozen through 2023 and if passed, we will maintain some of the lowest toll rates in the nation. As a tolling authority, we receive no state, federal or local tax dollars to support our operations, and when effective, we will not have had a system-wide toll increase for NY E-ZPass customers in 14 years. This is a responsible financial plan to ensure the Authority will meet its growing capital and infrastructure needs for a system that is approaching 70 years in age.”
The Authority says that even if the proposal is approved it will keep its toll rates among the lowest in the country compared to similar toll roads. The Thruway base passenger vehicle toll rate is less than $0.05 per mile, compared to the Ohio Turnpike ($0.06 per mile), the New Jersey Turnpike ($0.11 per mile) and the Pennsylvania Turnpike ($0.14 per mile).
As far as the aging infrastructure, the average age of the Thruway’s 815 bridges is 55 years old with 75 percent of those bridges more than 60 years old. More than 85 of them have been identified for replacement within the next decade.
The need to replace bridges grows exponentially after the 10-year timeline when hundreds of bridges will need to be replaced in the following decade. To provide a sense of the magnitude of the problem, the Thruway Authority projected replacement cost for the most immediate 85 bridges needing replacement is roughly $800 million in today’s dollars.
Factoring the hundreds of bridges that will require replacement not long thereafter, the costs escalate into the $6 – $7 billion range, which it says the existing toll rate structure will not support.
The toll hike proposal will officially be presented to the board during a meeting on Monday. The board will have to hold public hearings on the plan before it can ultimately vote to accept or reject it.
In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt says, “As record inflation and economic difficulties continue, millions of New Yorkers are struggling to provide for their families this holiday season. Yet rather than trying to help, this state government seems determined to do the opposite. Rather than rein in spending the way most families are doing, unelected bureaucrats appointed by the Governor are moving to siphon more money away from the public and into their own hands…Governor Hochul is throwing struggling New Yorkers right under the bus not even three weeks after she’s been reelected. This year-end surprise is cowardly and just plain wrong. I am calling on the Governor to immediately shelve this new tax on driving, and reject any more toll hikes on already struggling New York families.”