Congressman Brian Higgins, New York State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, Senator Chris Jacobs, Assemblymember Ray Walter and Village of Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa are calling on the New York State Thruway Authority to dedicate available funding to transition the toll plazas in Williamsville and Lackawanna to electronic tolling.
The New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) has budgeted $750,000 to “Rehabilitate Buffalo Division Toll Booths” in 2018. The State announced on August 22, 2017 plans to transition the Grand Island tolls to a cashless system by March 2018. Local leaders are calling for the transition to electronic tolling at the Williamsville and Lackawanna barriers as well.
“We shouldn’t be investing three-quarters of a million dollars in the status quo. Electronic tolling technology exists and is highly effective in other regions of the country and state,” said Congressman Higgins. “Removal of the antiquated toll barriers would lift an unnecessary roadblock for commercial and passenger vehicles traveling throughout Western New York, reducing emissions and building in better traffic flow for local communities”
“With electronic tolls coming to Grand Island in 2018, it’s time for the Thruway Authority to replace the Williamsville toll barriers with high-speed, open road tolling. Implementing cashless tolling will eliminate traffic congestion, reduce pollution and make it safer and easier for Western New York drivers,” said State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer.
“This open-road/cash-less tolling is proven technology that is now being used throughout New York City,” said Senator Chris Jacobs. “It is by far the quickest and least expensive way to alleviate congestion at the Williamsville and Lackawanna toll plazas.”
“The benefits of electronic tolling are numerous, and would play an important role in supporting our revitalization efforts on Main Street in Williamsville,” said Assemblyman Walter. “We should be using this significant sum of money to replace the older toll booths in Western New York with state of the art electronic tolling technology, rather than investing in the outdated system currently in place.”
“My administration has asked the Thruway Authority for reforms to the Williamsville Toll Plaza for six years,” said Williamsville Mayor Kulpa. “We understand that cashless tolls are the future, and we are grateful to Congressman Higgins for his support in pushing for this crucial change to come soon.”
Electronic tolling improves air quality, reduces congestion and decreases wait time for drivers. Specifically, e-tolls at the Williamsville Toll Barrier would:
- Reduce traffic congestion on Main Street
- Continue efforts to make Main Street in Williamsville more walkable and pedestrian-friendly
- Remove barriers to the proposed Youngs Road interchange, which would provide additional relief to Main Street
And at the Lackawanna toll barrier would:
- Improve noise and air quality conditions for local neighborhoods
- Allow for the shifting of a portion of the Skyway’s traffic onto the Thruway will assist future efforts to consider removal of the Skyway.
A 2013 report of the “Task Force on Health Effects of Toll Plaza Air Quality in New York City” looked at the impact of toll plaza traffic on the health of toll workers and local communities and recommended increasing the automation of toll collection.
The New York State Thruway Authority is projected to carry a total of 267.3 million vehicles in 2017, up 3.3 million vehicles over last year. As a result, toll revenues are forecasted to be $707.3 million, an increase of $11.1 million above 2016 levels. An independent consultant is assuming continued traffic growth and subsequently continued growth in toll collection. In 2019 NYSTA toll revenues are expected to reach $722.5 million.