Thu October 23, 2008
Comptroller says Thruway Tolls Should be Rolled Back
By Karen DeWitt
Albany, New York – The State Comptroller says an audit of the state Thruway Authority has found that it's difficult to determine whether a controversial toll hike enacted last January is really justified.
When the Thruway Authority announced the 10% toll hike, it said it needed the money to fund maintenance and repair projects, and to make up for decreased usage of the nation's longest toll highway due to high gas prices. But State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, speaking in Rochester, says an audit has found that the records of the capital projects are too "muddled" to determine whether the toll hike was actually necessary. He recommends now that gas prices are declining, a portion of the toll hikes should be rescinded.
"If you were to roll back some of those toll hikes, perhaps that could encourage more people to go back on those roadways and increase the toll revenue," said DiNapoli.
The Comptroller also recommends that the Thruway Authority develop a better reporting plan for construction projects. He says they could use New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority as a model. At the MTA, he says, when capital projects are changed or delayed, the update is presented to the authority's board and is also made available to the public on the MTA website.
In a statement, the Thruway Authority says it agrees with many of the comptroller's concerns, and has already implemented a number of the recommendations. The Authority continues to maintain, though, that the toll hikes were justified.