On Wednesday, the New York State Thruway Authority said that it will seek public input on what Authority Chairman Howard Milstein called a “modest toll increase” of 45 percent for large trucks.  Read the chairman’s letter to Thruway Authority board members here.

Thruway Authority Executive Director Tom Madison told board members that the toll increase will help repair damage caused by the big trucks, but will still be at or below the level of tolls in neighboring states.  Madison said that a capital plan previously approved for bridge and road construction efforts had been inadequately funded. (You can read a consultant’s report on Thruway Authority finances here.)

Further study and public hearings must be held before the Authority can raise tolls.  We’ll keep an eye out for these hearings so that you can let the Thruway Authority know how you feel about its proposal.

Let’s not forget that the state has a Dedicated Roads & Bridges Fund that receives support from the gas tax, registration fees and other sources.  Unfortunately, the state has made a habit of “raiding” this fund and moving the money over to the state’s general fund to cover deficits.  Had that not occurred, perhaps there would be enough money to avoid such a ridiculous proposal.

I think most of us would agree that a 45-percent increase is well beyond “modest.”  It goes without saying that a toll increase of this magnitude would be devastating to the Upstate trucking industry.  Small operators especially will be severely harmed by this increase.

In the past, governors have been able to persuade the Thruway Authority to reduce or even eliminate proposed toll increases.  We expect Gov. Cuomo to speak out against what can only be characterized as a massive toll increase.