Central New York Leaders Condemn NYS Thruway Toll Hikes
If you thought our local leaders support the upcoming toll hikes, think again.
A growing number of local business, political, and community leaders are expressing outrage over the New York State Thruway Authority's decision to approve the toll increase.
This will be the first hike in nearly 14 years. It goes in effect January 1, putting an additional 5% charge for New York E-ZPass drivers. There will be another 5% increase in 2027.
The NYS Thruway Authority claimed the increases were somewhat inevitable, as they were needed to modernize and meet infrastructure requirements across the state's sprawling highway system.
The 570-mile Thruway system relies solely on toll revenue, as explained by board chair Joanne Mahoney:
The Thruway Authority receives no dedicated federal, state or local tax dollars and relies primarily on toll dollars to maintain and operate the Thruway which is one of the safest and reliable toll roads in the country.
Although the additional charges may be needed, local leaders have slammed the move and say it will place an additional burden on taxpayers that are already struggling with high inflation and skyrocketing energy costs.
What are they saying?
State Senator Joe Griffo was among the first to condemn the toll hikes. He issued a statement shortly after the news was announced:
I am disappointed that the New York State Thruway Authority Board of Directors has approved increasing tolls, which I opposed and urged the board to reject. While I recognize that there is a need to maintain the Thruway system, this toll hike will further burden New Yorkers and visitors to our state at a time when many are struggling due to high prices, rising energy costs and other economic challenges.
Ray Durso, the President and CEO of the Genesis Group, also had strong words about the upcoming rate hikes.
Read More: New York Owed Millions in Unpaid Tolls
The organization released a joint statement regarding the new toll prices:
It seems that everything is costing more these days. The cost of eggs, milk and other essential groceries. Don't forget fuel, local gas prices are approaching $4 per gallon - we recently read near $6 per gallon in California. Now, starting in January, it will cost more to drive on the NYS Thruway. When does it stop? Does it stop? If everybody were to receive an increase in pay every time there was a price increase - okay that would help. But that doesn't happen. What about those who live day to day and week to week - btw - that's how most people manage.
The Genesis Group works in Central New York to unite business and community leaders so that they can better advance regional, economic, social, and cultural interests.
Beyond the local level, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli also criticized the decision and alleged the Thruway Authority's move was premature.
He expressed back when the authority first proposed the hike:
The Thruway Authority’s toll increase proposal comes at a time of extraordinary challenges for New Yorkers who are faced with rising costs for everything from food to shelter to gas... Raising tolls should be the last option, and the Thruway has more work to do.
How much will it cost to drive on the highway?
Current projections estimate that E-ZPass drivers will pay half a cent more per mile in 2024.
For example, it currently costs roughly $5.75 to travel from Albany to Syracuse on I-90. The cost will increase to $5.51 in 2024 and then rise to $5.77 in 2027.
It currently costs $12.18 to drive from Albany to Buffalo, but the price will rise by $1.23 to $13.41 by 2027.
You can see a breakdown of the projected costs HERE.
Non E-ZPass holders will pay even more when the hikes take effect. Those without passes will pay roughly 3.5 cents more per mile in 2027.
If you're interested in obtaining an E-ZPass to keep costs a little lower, you can sign up for one here.