Statement by Congressman Brian Higgins:
“The people of Grand Island and Western New York spoke up and demanded action on the Grand Island tolls, and we are grateful to the Governor for once again listening to the pleas from Western New Yorkers.
“This has been a true bipartisan team effort between several levels of government. Together with New York State Senator Chris Jacobs, Assemblymember Angelo Morinello and under the passionate and focused leadership of Supervisor Nathan McMurray we fought for change that will lead to a healthier, more prosperous Grand Island.
“Recognition also goes to citizens like Brian Michel who publicly advocated for change, held community meetings and collected nearly 1,500 signatures in support of toll removal. This genuine collaboration between citizens and various leaders sets an example for progress done right, with the community being the ultimate victor.
“The tolls are a physical barrier choking off economic opportunity for Grand Island businesses, driving up emissions that pollute the air in municipalities that are home to some of this community’s greatest natural resources, and creating a daily hassle of backups for residents and all who drive through the town.
“This is another victory for Western New York that many thought wouldn’t happen in our lifetime, but one that again demonstrates the great outcomes possible when this community works together and stands up for itself.”
- On October 6, 2016 Congressman Higgins sent a letter to the New York State Thruway Authority advocating for the transition to “open road tolling” in Western New York. The same day Higgins, Grand Island Supervisor Nathan McMurray and Village of Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa stood at the Grand Island tolls calling for cashless tolling to relieve congestion and pollution created by the local toll plazas.
- On February 10, 2017 Assemblymember Morinello introduced A.5614 and on March 2, 2017 Senator Chris Jacobs introduced a similar bill in the Senate, S.4834, related to the removal of the Grand Island tolls.
- On May 11, 2017 Congressman Higgins, Grand Island Supervisor Nathan McMurray, Senator Chris Jacobs, Assemblymember Morinello and citizen advocate Brian Michel together pushed for conversion to cashless tolling at the Grand Island bridges.
- On June 23, 2017 Grand Island Supervisor appeals to New York State in a video
Congressman Higgins, in 2006 called on then-Governor Pataki to remove the tolls on the Niagara section of the New York State Thruway. Higgins pointed to details in the 1968 Niagara Toll Removal Act requiring removal of the I-190 barriers following construction reimbursement, he refuted NYS Thruway Authority arguments against toll removal and threatened introduction of a bill that would withhold federal funds from the NYSTA if the tolls were not removed. Following the push by Higgins, the New York State Thruway Authority ceased collection of tolls at the Ogden Street and Blackrock toll booths on October 30, 2006.