Proposed NY Thruway toll hike draws fire

June 5, 2012

A proposal for a 45% increase in tolls on commercial trucks traveling on the New York State Thruway has drawn vocal opposition from the trucking industry and state legislators, according to a report in the Post Standard in Syracuse, NY.

According to Kendra Adams, president of the New York State Motor Truck Assn., the proposed toll hike would increase the toll for a three-axle vehicle traveling from Syracuse to Rochester from $16.30 to $23.60. Tolls from Syracuse to Buffalo would climb about $15 to more than $47, Adams said, and the toll from Syracuse to Exit 2 at New York City would rise from $97.35 to more than $140.

The hike increase could push some trucking companies to use other roads, Adams warned, such as Route 20, to cross the state. While there are about 280,000 people working in trucking across the state, most companies are small and operate on thin margins, she added.

The proposed toll increase also drew fire from state legislators.

“At a time when we all are trying to change New York’s reputation as the worst place to do business in the U.S., raising the cost of shipping goods across upstate sends the wrong message to companies looking to expand or locate here,” said State Sen. Patty Ritchie, R-Oswegatchie.

Sen. Joseph Griffo, R-Rome, also voiced opposition to the plan.

“If the Authority understood the realities of the economy of Upstate New York, it would be rolling back tolls instead of increasing them,” he said.

One truck operator, Michael Chellis, safety director at Terpening Trucking Co. Inc., told the Post the rate hike would increase his company’s toll costs $6,000 a month, up from $13,000 to $19,000.

Chellis, vice chairman of the New York Motor Truck Assn., pointed out that while toll increases may be paid for by trucking companies, the costs get shifted to everyone by way of increases in the costs of goods shipped by truck.

“Anything that impacts truck transportation ultimately is going to end up in the consumer’s lap,” Chellis said. Terpening Trucking delivers bulk fuels, including gasoline and heating oil.  “It's going to cost [consumers] more at the pump and more to heat in the winter,” Chellis added.

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