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Government Affairs Albany Update

February 25, 2000  

THRUWAY TOLL INCREASE DROPPED

A possible Thruway toll increase was abandoned by the Thruway's three-member board on February 22 in light of increased opposition by several state leaders including Governor Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The Thruway also pitched its plans at public hearings in Syracuse, Rochester and Albany. The plan, which was unveiled on January 27th, called for increasing the tolls on New York's Thruway in conjunction with a 20-city Construction Cost Index. Thruway officials claimed they needed a toll increase to phase in repairs. The proposed 6 year capital plan called for $900 million in new projects which included repairs and improvements in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany areas. The tolls were scheduled to increase this June and would be capped at 3%. The Thruway has not had a toll increase since 1988 and its operating expenses have only increased 1% since 1994. The plan steadily lost momentum in light of opposition and after Assembly Minority Leader John Faso proposed placing the Canal System under the State Parks Department. That proposal, if adopted, would shift approximately $55 million per year in canal upkeep from the Thruway Authority to the State's general fund.