Elected leaders from all levels of government are teaming up to push for more cashless tolling on the New York State Thruway. Just last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Grand Island Toll booths will be replaced with an electronic system next year.
Standing near the Exit 49 toll booth - just off Transit Road in Cheektowaga - State Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, Assemblyman Ray Walter, Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa and Congressman Brian Higgins all called for replacing local toll barriers with cashless tolls. Ranzenhofer says he travels the Thruway frequently.
"Having to wait in line here early in the morning, or at the end of the day, it feels like we're in another century or another decade. We are behind other areas of the country. We are behind where we out to be for cashless tolls," Ranzenhofer said.
Congressman Higgins points out, that the Thruway Authority's 2018 budget includes $750,000 for rehabilitating Buffalo area toll booths.
"As opposed to investing in the past, we are calling on the state Thruway Authority to invest in the future," Higgins said.
Assemblyman Walter says there's many benefits to a cashless system and eliminating the backups in Lackawanna and Williamsville.
"There's communities there. There's neighborhoods. There's people who are dealing with the consequences of having that environmental impact, the exhaust from all of the trucks and all of the cars that are backed up there day in and day out. If we can eliminate that, and eliminate all of the time that's wasted sitting at that toll, then we've gone along way to improving the life of Western New Yorkers," Walter said.
Walter says Cuomo's cashless toll announcement last week for Grand Island is the catalyst needed to finally remove the Lackawanna and Williamsville toll barriers.