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Elected Officials Drop the Ball on Grand Island Tolls

By Rus Thompson

Rus Thompson

I would like to thank you for picking up the Grand Island Toll issue once US Rep. Brian Higgins spoke out about the Williamsville tolls. Higgins still remains silent over these tolls; I have asked him for help and he has ignored us.

I just need to say this, out of all the toll fights throughout the years, this fight is the first one to actually get to the point that legislation has been written to eliminate the tolls. This is not a decision the New York State Thruway Authority will make, this all boils down to politics, and passage of the toll bill in Albany would effectively eliminate the longest tolls on any section of the thruway. I thought of this plan of action in 2007 and worked with NY State Sen. George Maziarz's office to make it happen.

In all this time since I worked with Sen. Maziarz, the toll bill never made it to the floor for a vote in either house. Time after time I worked with each Senator and each Assemblyperson to get it reintroduced each and every year. I constantly bothered their staff to get updates, and was a constant irritant to the politicians involved, striving to get the Bill out of committee and on to the floor for a vote. Senators Maziarz, Thompson, Grisanti, Volker, Rath et al got repeated phone calls from me, to no avail. In the Assembly it was Hoyt, Ryan, Ceretto, Gabryszak, and DelMonte. All of them have dropped the ball. None of them continue to pursue this issue. It is the politicians here in WNY that have failed us and will continue to fail us. Grisanti and Ceretto vowed to continue this effort, but neither one has. They have been bought off by the people with money on Grand Island that like the tolls. They feel it keeps Grand Island safe, as it makes Grand Island a gated community. The pressure also from the anti-business crowd on Grand Island, they like it the way it is, too. Grand Island has a very unfriendly business climate, which has given us empty buildings and storefronts.

We have to point the finger of blame where it is deserved. It's all about politics. And, until we have politicians here that have the wherewithal to go after the tolls, they will stay and we will continue to pay the commuter tax for the privilege of driving over Grand Island to get to our homes. Why the Thruway controls this section of roadway still is beyond me. They own from the Ogden Street off ramp, to the base of North Grand Island bridges in Niagara Falls. The DOT maintains from the North Bridges to the Canadian border.

These tolls should have been removed when the other tolls on the 190 were taken down.



Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr. www.niagarafallsreporter.com

OCT 01, 2013