Grounded Speed Patrols
Associated Press

We agree with state Sen. John DeFrancisco that it was irrational for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto a bill that would have allowed Syracuse-area commuters to use the state Thruway for free.

The idea was to allow people to obtain a pass that would allow them to travel between exits 34A and 39 without paying tolls — keeping as many cars as possible on the highway rather than local roads.

In his veto message, Cuomo argued that approval would have had an adverse impact of the Thruway Authority's finances and "serve as a catalyst for other jurisdictions to seek similar toll reductions."

But this wouldn't be a free-for-all, it would pertain to a small segment of travelers during specific parts of the day — morning and afternoon rush hours.

And the move would not be completely unprecedented. Though not technically part of the Thruway, two toll collection points on Interstate 190 in western New York were eliminated in 2006 after Erie County officials complained that the extra fees were hindering economic growth in downtown Buffalo.

The same argument could be made for Syracuse. Encouraging commuters to utilize the highway would make the area a bit more business friendly. And, as DeFrancisco pointed out, it would help relieve congestion on other roads — an important point with the Interstate 81 viaduct due for a major overhaul.

Highways are built for a reason. They allow a great number of vehicles to get from place to place quickly and efficiently. The state should be doing all it can to encourage more people — not fewer — to use the Thruway.

The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.

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