Business owners want to get rid of Grand Island tolls

Posted at 6:49 PM, Mar 22, 2017

Dick and Jenny's may be the only place on Grand Island serving up Jambalaya and Po' Boys. Owner, Jennifer Benz believes that business could be even better. But the bridge tolls keep new customers from trying her Louisiana Cajun style menu.

"I think they have other ways if they are going to collect money at the foot of the bridge," Benz said.

Like other Grand Island business owners, Benz wants New York Thruway Authority to take down the tolls. She thinks the traffic jams discourage people from coming onto the island to wine and dine.

Tens of thousands of vehicles go through Grand Island tolls every day. The New York State Thruway Authority estimates that in 2015 the tolls made close to $18.5 million. About 88 percent of the people in those vehicles were visitors.

"It's the only way to get to the falls unless you want to go all the way around," Carroll Becker said.

Becker also lives on Grand Island. She thinks the tolls should go away, just like those taken down in the City of Buffalo some years ago. Becker said the 6-lane toll merging into the two lane bridge traffic makes the commute difficult.

"An extra lane to the bridge will help all that traffic. Trucks can move over and you'll have room not just one lane to get by those trucks," Becker said.

Wednesday evening, Western New York for Grand Island Toll Barrier Removal held a public forum at the Niagara Global Tourism Institute in Niagara Falls.

They discussed the removal of the tolls, something many people now support. If the tolls don't get removed they hope at the very least a high speed toll collection system can be installed. This could allow traffic to have a better flow without stopping.