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Fear and loathing at the tollbooths

Thruway Authority says toll hike on passenger cars out of question

— Lawmakers have lambasted the New York State Thruway Authority’s proposed toll hike on trucks for weeks, but with rumblings of other ideas being pursued a dark cloud still hangs over the 570-mile highway.

The state Thruway Authority Board of Directors is scheduled to meet on Monday, Dec. 17, at a time and location that had yet to be determined as of this afternoon. Also up in the air is an agenda, though the board is expected to award a bid for the new Tappan Zee Bridge design.

Some lawmakers are wondering if a proposed 45 percent toll hike on commercial vehicles will be passed, too.

There were no toll increases on the Thruway from 1988 to 2005, and Thruway officials said finances weren’t properly managed by previous administrations, leading to debt and other fiscal challenges. The last toll increase on commercial vehicles was levied less than two years ago.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 5, he didn’t know if the proposed toll hike would be addressed at the Thruway Authority’s Dec. 17 meeting.

“It is a tough situation for the Thruway,” Cuomo said. “They need to make ends meet. … I have told them to go back and come up with other options and find other ways and that (a toll hike) is the last resort.”

Local lawmakers have been more blunt.

“Not even the ‘Grinch Stole Christmas’ could be this diabolical,” Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, said in a statement. “This is yet another example of secret government emanating from the Thruway Authority.”

In May, the authority proposed what it dubbed a “modest” 45 percent toll hike on large trucks with three or more axles. Recently, it was reported the agency was reviewing every alternative to the commercial increase proposed and not ruling out passenger cars.

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