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Official argues tolls remain a barrier for Grand Island

Michael Mroziak/WBFO News

The toll bridges connecting Grand Island with the rest of Western New York are as common to commuters as pot holes in April. However, Nathan McMurray is taking a fresh look in his first year as Grand Island Supervisor. "Does this make sense in this day and age to have people out there collecting dollar bills?"


"People were concerned about the installation of those tolls since the beginning of time, since those things were started. It's about time to reexamine it."

Part of that review, McMurray contends, should include a second look at his community.

"Grand Island is a true gem and I'm not just saying that because I'm the town supervisor. If you look at it objectively, it's the size of Manhattan, in the Niagara River, between Canada and America. It's the keystone of the region connecting north and south."

The reality for many, however, is that Grand Island is a stop at the toll booth, a grunting reality that is endured through necessity.

"It's this beautiful island surrounded by all this water and two state parks. It's not good for Western New York to have it as a place that people avoid."

A lawyer by trade, McMurray would like to see change, though change is slow to come to the New York State Thruway Authority. He's examined some of the documentation from the earliest days of the toll bridges.  

"The original legislation is very clear. It says the toll money should be used for the sole benefit of the maintenance and paying off of those bridges," McMurray said. He argues the condition of the bridges does not reflect the reported $20 million that is collected from motorists.   

"But the reality is those (tolls) are just a source of money for New York State. I think that's wrong and I think all the people in Western New York should be angry about that."

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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.