State Comptroller DiNapoli says alternatives to toll hike should be explored

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says many other options can be explored before a 45% increase in truck tolls is approved for the Thruway.

The comptroller will release a report Wednesday as the Thruway Authority heads to enact the toll increases Sept. 30. Public hearings are being held this week statewide.

DiNapoli tells The Associated Press ahead of the report's release that a costly canal system and better fiscal planning and controls should be examined before truck tolls are increased for trucks with three or more axles.

But the Thruway Authority says rising costs and declining revenue from tolls is forcing the toll increase. The increase is needed so the authority can meet debt payments.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has told his appointees at the state Thruway Authority to find a way to lower what the authority called a "modest" 45%increase in truck tolls, a proposal that's angering one of his strong upstate business allies.

Cuomo is defending the need for a toll increase to keep the authority fiscally sound as it reports double-digit increases in maintenance costs. Part of that's from tropical storm damage. The authority also faces increased health care costs.

Public hearings on the increase are scheduled Thursday in Buffalo, Friday in East Syracuse, and Saturday in Newburgh.