ALBANY – The State Thruway Authority has scheduled a board meeting for Friday at which it is likely to impose a double-digit toll increase on commercial trucks using its highway system.
The agency earlier this year proposed a 45 percent toll hike on most vehicles with three or more axles, a move designed to bring in about $90 million a year in additional revenues.
The agency, as part of a $1 billion borrowing program late this summer, told investors that it saw little chance that it would significantly change its toll hike plan – despite angry protests by everyone from supermarkets to trucking companies to farmers worried about the higher cost of shipping goods across the state.
The Thruway board’s website provided no information – other than time and place – for the Friday meeting, but the agency in the past has suggested the next time the board meets it will be taking up the toll issue.
A Thruway spokesman Wednesday evening said the agenda for the meeting has not yet been set. The Friday afternoon meeting will be held at one of the agency’s downstate offices; the authority has stopped using its Albany headquarters for board gatherings.
“We’re preparing ourselves for the worst,’’ said Kendra Adams, executive director of the New York State Motor Truck Association. She said the authority has had no further conversations with her trade group about possible alternatives to a 45 percent increase. The group has warned that trucking companies and their clients will have to pass along the cost of the toll increase to consumers.
There has been talk, as always when tolls are raised in New York over the years, that the Thruway Authority proposed an unusually high toll rate hike so it could soothe protests when it adopted a final, lower rate increase. But the Cuomo administration is concerned about doing anything to hurt the flow of revenues to the agency at a time when it hopes in the future to go to the bond market to help finance a $5 billion Thruway bridge project over the Hudson River between Westchester and Rockland counties.
Officials have floated the idea that an increase lower than 45 percent could be made possible by spending cutbacks at the agency. But officials also have cautioned against speculation by some groups that a toll hike for truckers could be sharply lowered by offering a smaller toll increase that would be imposed on all Thruway users.