Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) reacted to the New York State Thruway Authority’s vote to increase tolls by calling the move offensive and unnecessary.
“This unwarranted toll increase is a slap in the face to the hard-working residents of Western New York,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “The Thruway Authority has created a fictional budget hole as a means to justify a toll increase that pads their already bloated bureaucratic pockets.”
According to the audit recently released by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, even by conservative measures, the Authority has underestimated federal aid by a minimum of $125 million for a 5-year budgetary period.
Comptroller DiNapoli’s audit finds, “between 1988 and 2007, the Authority received an average of $33.5 million a year in Federal highway funding. It therefore seems that the Authority’s projected average of $4.9 million a year in such funding is unreasonably low.” The audit further claims, “It would be reasonable for the Authority to estimate at least $30 million a year in Federal highway funding (this is consistent with the past average of $33.5 million a year). Adjusted estimates in this manner would result in an additional $125.3 million being available…”
Congressman Higgins also noted that Thruway Authority promises to use toll revenues on Western New York road projects have not been met. “Between 2007 and 2010 the Thruway Authority will fall over $200 million short on promised projects in the Thruway’s Buffalo Division, which covers Erie and Chautauqua Counties,” Higgins added. “The Authority has used excuse after excuse to validate a 45% toll increase in just five years. Actions taken by the Authority board today clearly demonstrate the need for reform that puts in place decision makers that are more receptive and accountable to the public they serve.”