Several business owners testified at a public hearing in Rochester about the Thruway Authority's proposal to hike tolls by 20 percent over the next two years. “I have the opportunity to deal with trucking companies from outside New York state who prefer not to use the Thruway because of cost and they take secondary roads to get to our location and also to Rochester and Buffalo," said Todd Smith of Priority Transportation.
The hearing was sponsored by State Republicans. "We feel obligated from a safety standpoint primarily using the NYS Thruway as opposed to secondary roads. So with that obligation, we have to question ourselves whether or not we can afford to move to the secondary roads again from a safety standpoint," said Smith.
Thruway officials say the increase is necessary because fewer cars and trucks are using the interstate. The increase would help make up for the lost revenue.
"We know that if the financial incentive is to push you further off the highway and more trucks off the highway its going to be a bigger safety issue," said State Assemblyman Bob Oak. Last month a family of four was killed just outside of Batavia when their minivan veered into the path of a tractor trailer. The road where the accident happened is a well known shortcut for truckers. Assemblyman Oak says the Thruway Authority should consider the impact an increase could have on truck traffic before any increase is passed. "We really ought to pullback on this thruway toll hike proposal and look at it in a larger way," added Oak.