Assemblyman testifies in opposition to proposal from Thruway Authority
Assemblyman John D. Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, an outspoken opponent of the Thruway Authority's recent plan to raise tolls on commercial vehicles by nearly 50 percent, attended a public hearing in Buffalo Thursday evening to call for a halt to what he calls an excessive fee increase. Ceretto is actively working to transform the Lehigh Valley Rail Yard into a regional transportation hub and fears this toll increase will immediately and negatively impact all New Yorkers and stifle new job creation while the economy is still fragile.
"At a time when our state needs to remove barriers to development and not add to them, this toll hike will only make it more difficult for job creation and impose an extra fee on consumers," Ceretto said. "My testimony at the public hearing tonight addressed this serious issue and it is my hope that the Thruway Authority will reconsider this ill-timed and unwarranted extra fee."
The Thruway Authority will be accepting public comments on the proposed toll adjustment through Friday, Aug. 24. Ceretto noted comments can be submitted by mail at Toll Comments, c/o Legal Department, New York State Thruway Authority, 200 Southern Blvd. P.O. Box 189, Albany, NY 12201-0189 or by email at[email protected].
Here is a copy of Ceretto's testimony:
"My name is John Ceretto. I am a New York state assemblyman representing the 138th District, covering much of Niagara County.
"I am here this evening to strongly oppose the New York State Thruway Authority's proposed 45 percent toll increase on commercial vehicles. This plan will simply add to the cost of doing business in New York state.
"According to the New York State Motor Truck Association, the trucking industry in New York is responsible for transporting over 1.4 million tons of manufactured material each day. Almost 90 percent of New York communities depend exclusively on trucks to move their goods. The trucking industry provides one out of every 25 jobs in the state.
"Nationally, according to truckinfo.net, there are an estimated 8.9 million people employed in trucking-related jobs, with nearly 3.5 million truck drivers, many of whom are independent owners and operators.
"The U.S. economy depends on trucks to deliver nearly 70 percent of all freight every year, accounting for $671 billion worth of manufactured and retail goods.
"This toll hike is a burden to small business and it is a barrier to an enormous industry that we cannot shut the door on.
"The consequences of enacting this toll increase are clear.
•This proposed toll hike will have a negative impact on every single consumer in the state.
•This proposed toll hike disrupts the steady progress that has been made in making New York state open for business again.
•This proposed toll hike will tie the hands of the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, its logistics work group.
•This proposed toll hike will cancel out our unique advantage of our proximity to a growing Canadian market.
"At the end of the day, this increase in the cost of shipping goods and materials will be passed onto every New Yorker. Every product that is shipped, including and most importantly food products, will become more expensive.
"At some point there needs to be a solution other than raising tolls, and I submit to the Thruway Authority that those options need to be thoroughly exhausted before any rate hike is considered.