Local truckers, politicians oppose the idea

Thruway Toll Increase Proposed for Commercial Vehicles

June 1, 2012 Updated Jun 1, 2012 at 5:34 PM EDT

By WKBW News

June 1, 2012 Updated Jun 1, 2012 at 5:34 PM EDT

BUFFALO (WKBW) Driving the length of the New York State Thruway could be getting much more expensive for drivers on more than four wheels as a potential toll hike is in the works for truck drivers.

The State Thruway Authority is now considering a proposed toll rate increase of 45% for all commercial trucks. And that proposal is not sitting well with local truckers.

"Our margins are so slim now and competition is so high that there is no way that we can absorb any kind of, 45% increase is just ridiculous," Jonathan Price of Price Trucking said.

The New York State Thruway Authority declined an interview, but according to a recent report, has said the increase is to help pay for maintenance of the road. Friday, several local politicians came out against the proposed hike.

"We do not want that traffic, that truck traffic, those businesses, to go around us, go to another state, go through Detroit. We want them to come to New York State," NY Assemblyman John Ceretto said.

"I think it's outrageous. I've been fighting the Thruway tolls, even the existence of Thruway tolls, since 1998 as a local government official because it creates an undue competitive disadvantage for our truckers and our businesses here in Upstate NY," Congresswoman Kathy Hochul added.

For Jonathan Price, the proposed increase would cost his 35 truck business tens of thousands of dollars, something he would have to pass along to his customers. Unless he avoids toll roads altogether, which comes with its own set of problems.

"It definitely puts everything more at risk. You're going through small towns, you start going up and down hills and it's dark at night and it just makes everything unsafe, and I don't see how it can be avoided," Price said.

And he may get the last word. The Thruway Authority plans to hold public hearings before the proposed increase can be approved.