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Hauling Companies Say Thruway Toll Hike Would Leave Them Sputtering

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Rochester: Hauling Companies Say Thruway Toll Hike Would Leave Them Sputtering
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A possible vote on a major Thruway toll increase for truckers has been postponed again. That doesn't mean the issue isn't front and center in the minds of trucking companies and politicians.

Wadhams: "We operate about 320 tractors,” said Steve Wadhams.

Those Wadhams Enterprises trucks haul milk, fuel, and other freight.

"It's a family business. Me and my brother still operate it."

Much of that business is conducted on the New York State Thruway.

"There's a lot of business runs east and west on that Thruway."

Which is why a proposed 45 percent toll hike for truckers using the Thruway doesn't sit well.

"If things change and tolls go up, we may have to rethink about how heavily we rely on it."

State lawmakers have no official say over the proposed hike.

"I think it's clear that a 45 percent toll increase is ridiculous,” said Brian Kolb, (R), Assembly Minority Leader.

That hasn't stopped legislators like Kolb from slamming the plan as bad for business.

"That cost will probably be passed on to the consumers, but in the meantime if it's not, it has to be absorbed by the businesses, and that's an increased cost of doing business in New York State versus not doing business in New York State."

Kolb has called for a complete audit of the Thruway Authority, which has already been slammed by the state Comptroller for the way it is run.

"This is what gets frustrating to us as lawmakers, is that you've got these state agencies and authorities making life miserable for people who are just trying to make a living in this state,” Kolb said.

The Thruway Authority had scheduled a meeting for last week, which was promptly pushed back. It was rescheduled for Tuesday, but once again, postponed.

Wadhams figures a 45 percent toll hike will cost his business about a half million dollars a year.

"What's going to happen is we're going to have to pass that on to our customers, who's going to pass it on to their customers, eventually down to the consumers."

One way to avoid the tolls, says Wadhams, is to take side roads, but many communities have complained about that practice.

So for now, it’s wait and see what the Thruway Authority will do next.

"It's gonna make it tougher for businesses Upstate to stay here,” Wadhams said. "We're gonna have to recoup this somehow."

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