Group Hires Attorney with Goal to Move Thruway Toll Plaza

August 28, 2013 Updated Aug 28, 2013 at 11:24 PM EDT

By John Borsa

August 28, 2013 Updated Aug 28, 2013 at 11:24 PM EDT

AMHERST, NY (WKBW) - Buffalo attorney Michael Powers was there seven years ago, standing on the I-190, when he, developer Carl Paladino and then-County Executive Joel Giambra popped the champagne and celebrated.

Powers was victorious in forcing the Thruway Authority to tear down the toll barriers at Ogden and Breckenridge.

Now, Powers is hoping to repeat that victory by focusing on another toll barrier.

"It looks like it might be game on here," he said from his 33rd floor office at Phillips Lytle in the HSBC Tower.

"When we attacked the Ogden and Breckenridge, I spent about six months researching that before we actually launched the challenge," said Powers, who added that he is in a similar phase of researching the Williamsville Tolls.

Powers said he has been retained by a group of concerned citizens and business owners, who wish to remain anonymous, to analyze the possibility of forcing the Thruway Authority to move the toll plaza east past Exit 49 (Transit Road/Depew).

"I can't see it happening," said Thruway Authority Board Member Donna Luh.

The authority spent $5.2 million to analyze the idea of moving the Williamsville Tolls, which is the site of daily backups, and ruled it out.

Could a move happen sometime in the future?

"I can't speak for my other fellow board members but I can speak for myself. And that would be a clear no," she said.

Luh said the cost of moving the toll plaza would cost at least $100 million. A waste of money, she said, mostly because the Thruway will probably move to an all electronic model within a few years.

But until the day comes that toll booths and toll collectors are a thing of the past, the toll barrier will remain for now.

Plans are in the works to make modifications to the existing toll plaza, including increasing the speed for EZ Pass lanes.