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Congressman Higgins, Supervisor McMurray & Mayor Kulpa Call for “Open Road Tolling” in Western New York

Oct 6, 2016
Press Release
As NYS Begins the Elimination of Booths Downstate, Local Leaders Push for Similar Transition for Grand Island, Williamsville & Lackawanna

Following the announcement that New York State will begin the conversion to 100% electronic tolling for several bridges and tunnels in the New York City area, local leaders are pushing for a similar transition in Western New York.  Congressman Brian Higgins, Grand Island Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray and Village of Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa came together to advocate for “Open Road Tolling” as a means to relieve congestion, improve air quality, encourage business growth  and provide for more efficient transportation for local residents. 

“The antiquated toll system as it exists today costs drivers gas and time, detracts from a friendly business climate and certainly takes a toll on our environment,” said Congressman Higgins who issued a letter to the New York State Thruway Authority advocating for the transition to “open road tolling” in Western New York. 

Village of Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa said, “Implementing high speed collections will encourage commuters to avoid out arterials and alleviate traffic on Main Street, Genesee Street and make our communities safer places for pedestrians.”

“For years the tolls and how we can improve traffic flow in western New York has been an issue,” said Grand Island Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray.  “It's been an issue so many have ignored. But the pendulum is swinging. It's swinging towards new answers and new innovation in western New York. And I'm proud to be part of the emerging, bipartisan coalition led by congressman Higgins to fight for our region."

“Open Road Tolling” utilizes sensors to electronically charge tolls on vehicles passing through a designated toll area, primarily through E-ZPass.  Under the plan announced by New York State this week, seven bridges and two tunnels in the New York City region would convert to automatic tolling next year. 

Below are just a few of the advantages “open road tolling” would have on local communities:  

Two Grand Island Bridge Toll Barriers:  

  • Eliminate unreasonable delays and commute times for Grand Island residents
  • Encourage greater consumer attention to Grand Island restaurants and small businesses
  • Ease congestion for visitors making their way to Niagara Falls
  • Significantly improve air quality in the Tonawandas

 

The Williamsville Toll Barrier:

  • Reduce traffic congestion on Main Street
  • Continue efforts to make Main Street in Williamsville more walkable and pedestrian-friendly 
  • Remove barriers to the proposed Youngs Road interchange, which would provide additional relief to Main Street

 

The Lackawanna Toll Barrier:  

  • Allow for the shifting of a portion of the Skyway’s traffic onto the Thruway will assist future efforts to consider removal of the Skyway. 
  • Improve noise and air quality conditions for local neighborhoods