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The Times
  • Local truckers, politicians oppose Thruway toll proposal

  • Truckers might soon have to pay more for traveling on the Thruway, and that means consumers will have to share the pain.

    “The price of transportation will go up, which means the price for the customer will go up,” said Alex Craska, vice president of C.P. Craska trucking in Ilion. “They’re going to have to start paying more for everything.”

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  • Truckers might soon have to pay more for traveling on the Thruway, and that means consumers will have to share the pain.
    “The price of transportation will go up, which means the price for the customer will go up,” said Alex Craska, vice president of C.P. Craska trucking in Ilion. “They’re going to have to start paying more for everything.”
    The New York State Thruway Authority last week proposed a 45 percent toll increase for big trucks. The current charge for a five-axle truck traveling from Buffalo to New York City is about $93. That would increase to about $135 under the proposal the board approved last Wednesday.
    “As a small business in New York, we can’t sustain that big of an increase,” said Matt Obreza, manager of Richard Obreza Trucking in Mohawk, which transports frozen and refrigerated foods across the Northeast. “That would require us to pass on the cost to companies that are milk-marketing agencies.”
    In its report, the Thruway Authority said the increase is justified because commercial vehicles and overweight trucks have the highest demand on roads from a financial and infrastructure standpoint.
    When contacted, Thruway officials refused to comment further.
    Several of the Mohawk Valley’s political leaders voiced strong opposition to the proposed increase.
    “This action undercuts the message of economic growth we have been trying to achieve,” said State Sen. Joseph Griffo, R - Rome, in a news release last Friday. “If the authority understood the realities of the economy of upstate New York, it would roll back tolls instead of increase them.”
    Assemblyman Marc Butler, R - Newport, also said the toll costs would be passed on to the consumer, but there will be a process prior to the final implementation.
    “I suspect, if there is going to be an increase, it won’t be of that magnitude,” Butler said.
    He said it was “incredibly poor timing.” “We’re struggling in so many ways to try and turn things around,” he said. “Certainly, it’s going to put more of an onus on the business.”
    Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, D - Utica, said in a news release the increase would be a huge burden and might take some tractor-trailers off the Thruway.
    “This toll increase will force truckers to get off the Thruway, putting them onto local roads and endangering the safety of our communities,” he said.
    Sagib Rizvanovic, owner of Balkan Transport in Deerfield, agreed some truckers might — and already do — avoid the Thruway. “I would say at least about 50 percent of the drivers we have through our company are always avoiding (trips to the Northeast) because of the toll costs,” he said.
    Because many of them own their own trucks, the driver is paying out of pocket. “The drivers keep complaining as soon as you book their load going to the Northeast,” Rizvanovic said.
    Page 2 of 2 - For some other truck drivers, avoiding the Thruway isn’t so easy. “Going down roads like 5S, they’re not as safe or convenient,” Obreza said. “And it takes a long time.”
    Craska said the cost of shipping goods is the worst he’s seen, and the trucking company has been in business since 1927. “The combination of fuel is getting to outrageous prices, and they’re going to add this on to it,” he said. “The Thruway is the best way to go and everyone has to take it.”

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