Lawmakers Hearing Budget Testimony in Albany; Thruway Questioned over Proposed Toll Hikes

ALBANY—With budget hearing season underway following Gov. Hockul’ proposed 2024 spending plan announced Feb. 1, lawmakers seized the opportunity to question interim executive director Frank Hoare when he spoke at a joint hearing of the Legislative Fiscal and Transportation Committees in at the State Capitol on Feb. 6.

Lawmakers questioned the New York Thruway Authority proposed toll hike at Monday’s question-and-answer session. The Thruway Authority is seeking to change the E-ZPass per mile rate to $0.047 in 2024. The current rate is 4.5 cents per mile. This toll would jump to 4.9 cents per mile in 2027, if the proposal is approved.

While some state lawmakers, like Senator George Borrello challenge hike, saying the transition to cashless tolling was supposed save money, others argue the price hike is warranted. New York State Comptroller report urging the Thruway Authority only raise tolls as a last resort.

Mr. Hoare, who served as general counsel prior to his current position said the Authority will continue to move ahead with its $412 million capital program for this year making necessary investments into the Thruway system. “The overall 2023 Thruway Authority budget represents a total financial commitment of $1.2 billion,” which he said is ample to maintain the current levels of maintenance, safety and service.

To bolster the Thruway’s toll collection efforts, he discussed Gov. Hochul’s toll violation proposal to outlaw certain common toll evasion practices that render license plates difficult or impossible to read. “This will enhance enforcement by increasing fines, seizing materials affixed for the purpose of blocking numbered plates, and allow for the denial and suspension of registrations.”

The current large-scale project, which began July 2021, is the ongoing redevelopment of the Thruway’s 27 service areas. This project is part of a $450 million investment plan with Empire State Thruway Partners, where 23 of the 27 service area restaurant buildings will be rebuilt with significant renovations to the remaining four. Mr. Hoare stressed that the project is funded through a public private partnership, “with no toll dollars, nor any federal, state or local taxpayer funding being used.”

Before a toll hike takes effect, the Thruway Authority says they will be hosting public hearings on the matter but did not provide a specific date. Comments can be made online to [email protected]


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