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The Times
  • Truckers sue over NY Thruway tolls to canal system

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  • A national trucking group suing over the diversion of New York Thruway tolls for state canal maintenance claims the waterway is being subsidized at a steep cost to truckers.
    American Trucking Associations claims in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday in the Southern District of New York that the inflated commercial tolls violate truckers’ constitutional rights under the Commerce Clause. The truckers want the practice to stop.
    Since legislation switching the state Canal System from the Department of Transportation to the Thruway Authority was enacted in 1992, the authority has spent $1.1 billion on the statewide system. The authority spent more than $100 million of toll money on the canals last year, according to the lawsuit.
    “The extent of the Thruway Authority’s subsidization of the canals with Thruway truck-toll revenues is staggering,” according to the lawsuit, which lists three trucking companies as co-plaintiffs.
    The lawsuit claims the higher tolls reduces trucker revenue and raises consumer prices.
    A spokesman for the authority says it has not been served with court papers and had no comment.
    Tolls have been a sticky issue for the Thruway Authority recently. The authority board last December dropped plans for a 45-percent increase in truck tolls amid an outcry, saying it would take a number of cost-cutting steps instead.
    The Thruway has not yet announced what tolls will be on the new Tappan Zee Bridge across the lower Hudson River. The project has secured a low-interest, $1.6 billion federal loan, but the balance of the $3.9 billion project will be paid through a toll increase.
    State officials say there are no plans for toll increases statewide.
    The bridge is scheduled to open in 2018.

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