Posted at: 11/15/2013 5:55 PM
Updated at: 11/15/2013 6:26 PM
Truck companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on tolls. And now one trucking group is suing the Thruway Authority, calling the tolls unfair and excessive.
News10NBC has been taking a close look at this in our exclusive New York State Exposed series. The money is used to maintain and repair roads. The American Trucking Association claims more than $100 million was used to fix up canals. It says truckers' rights were violated and they want the overspending to stop.
The trucking group says it's very simple. If you are going to charge a fee for using the Thruway, then that money needs to go directly to the Thruway.
American Trucking Association Litigation Center Chief Council Rich Pianka said "When you're automatically taking a big chunk out of that toll payment and applying it to a facility that has nothing to do with the freeway like kayaking, canoeing, biking and jogging facility, then clearly the tolls are excessive and an unfair approximation of use."
The association claims that by law you should only be charged enough to properly maintain the Thruway, and you shouldn't be charged for other projects. Truckers pay a significant amount of tolls. Back in 2011, 37-percent of toll money came from truckers using the Thruway. That's more than $236 million and it's expected to be much more for 2013.
News10NBC spoke to the president of a local truck company which has at least 80 trucks traveling in and out of Rochester. They estimate they will spend nearly $270 thousand in tolls this year alone.
Kevin Daley, president of C&M Forwarding, said "I have nothing but respect for the work they do. The New York State roads are some of the best roads we travel on, but then again I don't think it's appropriate for the trucking industry to finance other operations in the state."
A spokesman for the authority said they have not been served with court papers and he had no further comment about the lawsuit. But he was willing to talk a little bit about the thruway and the canals. He said in 1992, legislation switched the canal system to the Thruway, making it an operation within the authority by law. He said they are simply "executing" what the state legislature told them to do.
This is a story News10NBC will continue to follow as the ATA is looking at other states to see if they are also in violation. They are concerned many other states are.