GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WKBW) - UPDATE: NYS Thruway Authority rep Jonathan Dougherty says the cashless tolls will not lead to job loss.
He confirmed all toll collectors will be offered positions within the authority.
Original: Governor Andrew Cuomo announced cashless tolls are coming to the Grand Island bridges. The familiar toll booths will be replaced with cashless tolls starting in February or March of 2018.
These will be the first toll booths in Upstate with this kind of technology.
The debate over tolls at the bridges has waged on for years. Many, including Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray, said the current toll system impacted everything on Grand Island, and slowed down traffic, and that it was time for a change.
Congressman Brian Higgins spoke out about the move Tuesday saying, "“The tolls are a physical barrier choking off economic opportunity for Grand Island businesses, driving up emissions that pollute the air in municipalities that are home to some of this community’s greatest natural resources, and creating a daily hassle of backups for residents and all who drive through the town."
Higgins is now fighting to get cashless tolls at all tolls in Western New York and across the state. The new tolls are expected to save daily commuters more than 200 minutes every year. Tens of thousands of people cross the Grand Island Bridges every day. About 88 percent of them are visitors. The cashless tolls are expected to help the flow of traffic between the Tonawandas and Niagara Falls.
Cashless tolls are used in many other places across New York State. With cashless tolls, no one has to stop and pay tolls. Instead, cars drive under a gantry in any lane they choose. If you have an E-ZPass in your car, the sensors will read it and charge you that way. If you don't have an E-Z Pass, a bill for the toll will be mailed to you.
A spokesperson for the New York State Thruway Authority tells 7 Eyewitness News the new cashless tolls will not cost toll collectors their jobs. The Grand Island toll collectors will be offered other positions within the Thruway Authority, either as toll collectors in other locations or in other openings at the authority.