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Public voices opposition to Thruway toll hike

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Mike Desmond/WBFO
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The Thruway Authority's proposal for a 45 percent toll hike on large trucks drew very limited support Thursday night during a public hearing in the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library auditorium.

Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison says the  increased revenue is needed. He also says the trucks do far more damage to the roadway than do cars -- 10,000 times more damage.

"One of the things that we have done in advance of recommending a toll adjustment is that we have taken a hard look at our own organization and come up with ways to make significant streamlining of our operations and also of our capital construction program," Madison told reporters.

Madison says the Authority is attempting to deal with its fiscal problems by cutting its own spending. He says there has been no final decision by the board and there won't be one until December.

"We took more than $300 million  out of our planned multi-year capital construction program and are we are on track to cut back on our operating expenses."

Several speakers say the authority could cut a lot more if it didn't have to run the State Barge Canal at a large loss and run highways downstate that are not tolled.

Madison pointed out Thruway segments in Western New York that don't have tolls.

Lockport Mayor Michael Tucker supports an increase.

"A strong Canal Corporation and a strong Thruway Authority is good for my city. That's what I'm focused on," Tucker said. "If you can find some other ways to support that organization other than a toll increase, I'm all for that."