Changes to the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) Capital Plan will result in over $200 million less for Western New York from 2007 to 2010, according to Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27). In order to justify the toll hikes of May, 2005, the Thruway Authority promised substantial construction work in its Buffalo District over the following six years.
“The Thruway Authority told us in exchange for higher tolls, they would invest hundreds of millions in our roads and put construction people to work,” said Higgins. “This about-face is a significant blow to the Western New York economy and completely disregards the promises made to the good people living and paying tolls in this region.”
Congressman Higgins raised a red flag earlier this year when it became apparent that the Authority would fall well short of its goal of letting $131.4 million in construction in the Buffalo area in 2007-so far this year the Authority has only let slightly more than $7 million.
The Congressman has subsequently learned that the Authority intends to continue this pattern of shortchanging Western New York. According to the most current edition of the Authority’s Capital plan, which was conveyed to the Congressman earlier this month as a result of his Freedom of Information Request, instead of attempting to catch up their shortfall of local improvements in 2008, the Authority intends to further shortchange Western New York in 2008 and 2009, compared to the improvements they had previously promised.
Instead of the promised $148.6 million which was to have been let in 2008, the Authority’s new plan calls for only $30.1 million in improvements in the Buffalo area. And in 2009, when the Authority had promised $110.5 million in Buffalo-area improvements, they intend to let only $68.3 million.
“I am hopeful the State Comptroller’s audit will shed light on the apparent shell game being played by the Thruway Authority,” added Higgins.