The New York State Thruway Authority will not implement a 45 percent toll increase for commercial trucks, executive director Tom Madison announced Monday.
At a presentation in Albany, Madison unveiled a cost savings plan that will allow the authority to avert the controversial toll increase — a proposal that drew criticism from business groups and state legislators.
The authority cut $25 million in operating costs in 2012 and will save more than $130 million in savings over the next three years, Madison said. From 2011 to 2013, the authority will slash 361 jobs — decreasing the Thruway's workforce by 6 percent.
Manager salaries will be frozen and the authority will look at other changes, including reductions in vehicle and equipment purchases, fleet size, and enhanced energy efficiency at their facilities.
"We are setting the stage to allow the (Thruway Authority) to build bigger and better than ever before," Madison said at a presentation in Albany.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo applauded the authority for finding cost savings instead of raising tolls on trucks, calling the announcement "very exciting and very big news."
"My position was that the toll increase would be a last resort," he said. "I thought it would be counterproductive from an economic development point of view, especially in upstate New York. We have worked very hard to say to businesses that it's a new day in New York. I thought it would send the wrong signal, especially at this time when we're working so hard to send a different signal."
Unshackle Upstate, one of the groups that opposed the toll increase, was pleased with the decision.
"The announcement today is a clear indication that public advocacy is alive and well in New York," Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Brian Sampson said in a statement. "We’re proud to have worked with a large coalition of elected officials, business groups, trade organizations and toll payers in opposing the proposed toll hike. Working together, we can make New York State a place where businesses and families can thrive.”