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Governor Would Split Canal System from Thruway Authority

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Governor Pataki is proposing to separate the state Canal Corporation from the Thruway Authority. He says that would eventually save motorists $110 million in Thruway tolls over the next six years.

Under Pataki's proposal, the canal system's $80 million budget would become part of the state budget, supported by state and federal tax revenue. State Senator George Maziarz says he has a lot of questions about that.

"We have to see where the financing is coming from," Maziarz said. "Right now we know where it comes from -- the New York State Thruway Authority and Thruway tolls. We're going to have to see how this is going to work out."

The Thruway Authority would phase out its financial links to the money losing canal corporation over the next three years if the Legislature approves the plan.

The proposal also calls for large cuts in tolls for commuters that use the Black Rock and Ogden Street tolls on the Niagara Section.

But Congressman Brian Higgins of Buffalo says the governor's proposal is a "distortion and verbal manipulation." Higgins is an outspoken advocate of eliminating the Niagara Section tolls entirely.