On May 29, the New York State Thruway Authority proposed a 45 percent increase in tolls on the Thruway for vehicles with three or more axles, and with a hearing on the toll hike scheduled for Friday, businesses who use those trucks are speaking out.
Businesses like trucking, forestry and farming, as well as many more use those trucks on a daily basis to both bring goods in, and send them out to stores. That's why while average drivers on the Thruway may not have to pay a higher toll, they might have to pay more when it comes to buying everyday items at the grocery store.
"It's going to be passed along to consumers in ways of higher food prices, milk prices, cheese, ice cream, all of the different types of foods that you buy at the supermarket," Bruce Krupke, Vice President of the New England Dairy Foods Association says.
Krupke's company represents over 350 companies that use trucks on the New York State Thruway every day, often bringing food to local grocery stores, so he is adamant about this topic. He says he would understand if the increase was from 2 to 5 percent, but he thinks 45 percent is "outrageous." He isn't alone either.
"It sends the wrong message to business owners, and to anyone who does business in all of New York State," says Randy Wolken, who is the President of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York.
The Thruway Authority says that the money taken in at the tolls is the sole fund for the upkeep and improvements done to the road, and recent cuts to their capital program have made a toll hike necessary. The local business leaders say they understand that, but that the hike is overwhelming.
"We need to ask the hard questions like, why such a large increase," Wolken says. "Maybe a more modest increase would be acceptable, but a 45 percent increase is just not acceptable"
The hearing on the toll increase is scheduled for Friday, August, 17, from 11am to 1pm at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Syracuse.