Higgins Calls on Naples to provide Thruway Accident Data
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a report on Tuesday of this week citing the dangers of toll plazas on Interstate highways. Congressman Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) responded by formally requesting state records which would spell out the dangers of the toll barriers on the I-190 specifically. Higgins is among a coalition of local leaders calling for the removal of the toll barriers on I-190 in the City of Buffalo.
In their preliminary report, which will be followed by a full report, the NTSB indicated that:
• On toll roads in Illinois, 49% of rear-end accidents occurred at toll plazas.
• On toll roads in Pennsylvania, 30% of rear-end accidents occurred at toll plazas.
• On toll roads in New Jersey, 38% of rear-end accidents occurred at toll plazas.
The NTSB’s preliminary report provided no information specific to the New York State Thruway mainline or the I-190. In order to acquire information specific to the I-190, Congressman Higgins today issued a formal inquiry to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV is the repository of the New York State Motor Vehicle Accident Report Information database. Former Erie County Comptroller Nancy Naples was recently named NYS Commissioner of Motor Vehicles by Governor Pataki.
“Everyone knows that the toll booths on the Niagara Section of the Thruway are a drain on the economy of Western New York,” said Congressman Higgins, “now NTSB data indicates that toll booths like these are a threat to our families’ health and safety as well.”
The NTSB’s report was the result of an investigation of an accident which occurred at the Hampshire-Marengo Toll Plaza on I-90 in Illinois which killed eight and injured fifteen. In their own statement, the NTSB noted that “traditional toll plazas… interrupt the flow of high-speed traffic and tend to increase the incidence of rear-end collisions.” NTSB information can be accessed directly at www.ntsb.gov
Congressman Higgins has been fighting the tolls on the I-190 on the grounds that there are 25 arterial highways in Upstate New York which link the mainline Thruway to urban and suburban communities, but only one, the I-190 is a toll road. Additionally, the Congressman has consistently pointed out the injustice of the “double tax” associated with the I-190 – commuters pay once in the form of the federal gas tax, which has been used to pay for $194 million in improvements to the roadway, and pay again in the form of the tolls on the road.
Higgins has proposed federal legislation which would strip the Thruway Authority of federal funding until the I-190 tolls are removed.