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Higgins, McMurray & Kulpa call for 'open-road tolling' in Western New York

by jmaloni
Fri, Oct 7th 2016 05:00 pm
From left: Village of Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa, Congressman Brian Higgins and Grand Island Supervisor Nathan McMurray.
From left: Village of Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa, Congressman Brian Higgins and Grand Island Supervisor Nathan McMurray.

As NYS begins the elimination of booths downstate, local leaders push for similar transition for Grand Island, Williamsville & Lackawanna

Following the announcement New York will begin the conversion to 100-percent electronic tolling for several bridges and tunnels in the New York City area, local leaders are pushing for a similar transition in Western New York.

Congressman Brian Higgins, Grand Island Supervisor Nathan McMurray and Village of Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa came together to advocate for "open-road tolling" as a means to relieve congestion, improve air quality, encourage business growth and provide for more efficient transportation for local residents.

"The antiquated toll system as it exists today costs drivers gas and time, detracts from a friendly business climate, and certainly takes a toll on our environment," said Higgins, who issued a letter to the New York State Thruway Authority advocating for the transition to "open-road tolling" in Western New York.

Kulpa said, "Implementing high-speed collections will encourage commuters to avoid out arterials and alleviate traffic on Main Street, Genesee Street and make our communities safer places for pedestrians."

"For years, the tolls and how we can improve traffic flow in Western New York has been an issue," McMurray said. "It's been an issue so many have ignored. But the pendulum is swinging. It's swinging towards new answers and new innovation in Western New York. And I'm proud to be part of the emerging, bipartisan coalition led by congressman Higgins to fight for our region."

"Open-road tolling" utilizes sensors to electronically charge tolls on vehicles passing through a designated toll area, primarily through E-ZPass.

Under the plan announced by New York this week, seven bridges and two tunnels in the New York City region would convert to automatic tolling next year.

Below are just a few of the advantages the local leaders said "open-road tolling" would have on local communities:

Two Grand Island Bridge Toll Barriers:

Eliminate unreasonable delays and commute times for Grand Island residents

Encourage greater consumer attention to Grand Island restaurants and small businesses

Ease congestion for visitors making their way to Niagara Falls

Significantly improve air quality in the Tonawandas

The Williamsville Toll Barrier:

Reduce traffic congestion on Main Street

Continue efforts to make Main Street in Williamsville more walkable and pedestrian-friendly

Remove barriers to the proposed Youngs Road interchange, which would provide additional relief to Main Street

The Lackawanna Toll Barrier:

Allow for the shifting of a portion of the skyway's traffic onto the thruway will assist future efforts to consider removal of the skyway.

Improve noise and air quality conditions for local neighborhoods

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