Twenty business groups representing more than 13,000 companies are opposing the New York State Thruway Authority’s proposed 45 percent toll hike on commercial vehicles. The organizations represent farms, grocery stores, fuel suppliers, lumber mills and others that believe the increase would negatively impact their businesses.
The Thruway Authority has proposed the increase for commercial vehicles with three or more axles to support its capital plan for 2012 through 2015. That doesn’t include the $5 billion estimated cost of replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not taken a position on the toll hike. The Thruway Authority is holding a series of public hearings on the proposal.
The agricultural industry is particularly concerned about how it will be affected. “Many farmers will be paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars more per year just to get their food to market if these toll hikes are approved,” Dean Norton, New York Farm Bureau president, said in a statement. “Hard working farm families cannot easily absorb those rising transportation costs, and neither can New York families who will see their grocery bills rise because of it.”
Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate, said in a statement that the Thruway Authority “appears to have no regard for the impact their actions will have on all consumers who rely on the goods delivered by truck. Every time a truck toll is raised, it increases the cost to the consumer. Everything you use, consume or touch will cost more.”
The cost of transportation is factored into the price of any commodity, the groups said.
“Raw materials are transported by truck, so the cost of manufacturing will increase as the tolls on trucks increase,” said Randy Wolken, president of the Manufacturers Association and the Manufacturers Alliance of New York. “Consumers won’t just see their ‘shipping and handling charges increase, they’ll see the cost of every product increase.”
Kendra Adams, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association said the Thruway Authority has mismanaged its finances for years and is asking consumers to pay the price. A 2008 audit by the state comptroller’s office found that the Thruway Authority’s planned toll increases were not justified. The hikes subsequently were implemented.
“They are showing total disregard for what it will do to consumers, how it will impact communities along alternate routes and what it will do to the economy of New York,” she said. “And make no mistake, every New Yorker will foot the bill.”
Some of the other groups that oppose the hikes are the Empire State Forest Products Association, Empire State Petroleum Association, Food Industry Alliance of New York, National Federation of Independent Business, National Private Truck Council and the Northeast Dairy Foods Association Inc.