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NY Thruway Authority says no to toll increases, will cut budget instead

The New York Thruway Authority will eliminate 361 jobs as part of an overall budget cut of 21 percent.

The Trucker News Services

12/17/2012

ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York State Thruway Authority has decided that budget cuts, not toll increases, is the way to meet its future fiscal obligations.

Last May, Thruway officials had proposed a 45 percent toll hike on truck traffic to fill its $92 million operational deficit and fulfill promises to Wall Street investors.

But the trucking industry objected loudly and was joined by business, lawmaker and even  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself.

The new proposed Thruway budget would eliminate 361 jobs, scale back worker benefits, shed bad debt and save, in the long term hundreds of millions of dollars, officials said.

“The new spending plan “does not include a toll hike,” said Thomas Madison, executive director of the authority, at a news conference Monday.

As an example of how the toll hike would have impacted the trucking industry, the toll for a three-axle truck traveling from Buffalo to New York City is about $88.

That could have increase to $127 under the proposal taken off the table Monday.

Tolls were last raised on the 641-mile highway system in 2010 for all drivers, increasing the typical toll more than 25 percent.

 “It’s a very special day for the Thruway Authority,” Madison said. “It’s a historic day.”

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The Thruway’s board is scheduled to meet later Monday to consider the 2013-2014 budget.

Cuomo said the toll hike was a “last resort,” and one that would run counter to helping Upstate businesses that depend on the east-west artery.

According to New York officials, to make up for the expected $85 million from the toll hikes, the Thruway Authority will instead:

• Eliminate 361 positions, a reduction of 6 percent.

• Shift the $60 million cost of New York State Police assigned to patrol the Thruway from the authority’s books to New York’s ledgers.

• Shed $900 million in “risky debt.”

• Cut 21 percent overall from the Thruway’s operational budget.

"Other roadways don't pay for the state police," Cuomo said about taking on the $60 million cost for Thruway troopers. "It's a way the state could help."

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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