STATEMENT BY CONGRESSMAN BRIAN HIGGINS
“Today the New York State Thruway Authority gave this community what it deserves and demanded – a toll-free I-190 in Buffalo. Residents from the city and the suburbs; leaders from the public and private sectors; local, state and federal officials; Democrats and Republicans were relentless in standing up for what is right and we prevailed.
Commuters forced to pay for the thruway once at the gas pumps and again at the toll booths will no longer be double taxed. Drivers will save hundreds of dollars each year. And still this action adds up to so much more than seventy-five cents in our pockets. What happened today demonstrates that Western New York has turned the corner.
The barriers of access to this region’s urban core are coming down. The obstacles to experiencing all that Buffalo has to offer are gone. Tourists and residents from the suburbs and the city have a new opportunity to rediscover downtown. We have unlocked the door to a wealth of entertainment, athletic, historic, cultural, and natural treasures. We have sent a message that Buffalo is open for business.
This is a great step, obviously, but Western New Yorkers should not be lulled into a false sense of appreciation for this action today. Like in the case of the NYPA settlement and the NFTA relinquishment of waterfront lands, all Buffalo and Western New York did was stand up for itself, and our region is earning a victory here that is nothing less than what our region rightfully deserves.
The public pressure exerted on state leaders and on the Thruway Authority is a case study in what Western New Yorkers can do when we are united. When united, we can change the direction of this region in terms of economics and life quality, and the removal of these tolls, while only a first step, is a sign that a new direction is emerging for this community.
Together we represent new generation of leadership that is not looking for handouts, but insisting this community receives the tools we deserve to stand on our own two feet. We are committed to a new way of doing business, one that aggressively and jointly charts this region’s future on a course for great and an unobstructed future.”