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Gov. Cuomo Proposes Historic Upstate Transportation Investment, Thruway Toll Reduction

Chris Bolt

Governor Cuomo continued to unroll his 2016 agenda Wednesday with a visit to Onondaga County.   He has been touring the state, unveiling pieces of his agenda ahead of next week’s combined state of the state and budget address.  It was probably no accident that he chose a venue just off the Thruway in Salina to make his latest announcement.  Cuomo says he wants to make the largest investment in upstate transportation infrastructure in history.

"Transportation is the key to commerce.   It is the circulatory system.  In Upstate New York, it's about the roads and the bridges.   We want to invest more money than ever before in the history of New York in upstate roads and bridges...$22 billion," he said to applause.

The proposal includes a $1 billion  “Bridge New  York” plan to replace, rehabilitate, and maintain at least 200 state and local bridges.  Another billion will be used to pave up to 1,300 miles of state and local roads.  The other key part of his plan will reduce and even eliminate thruway tolls for those who use it the most.  For example, Cuomo wants to give farmers and agriculture-related businesses using EZ pass a 100% credit.

"It's not unusual for a farm to being paying upwards of $10,000 a year in tolls when you add it all up.  It's been especially burdensome on  he agricultural sector because farms, by definition, they're trucking in, they're trucking out...that's the nature of the business.  And they've been screaming about this for a long, long time.

Credit Chris Bolt / WAER News
Guests in attendance include Centerstate CEO President Robert Simpson, County Executive Joanie Mahoney, Assemblymember Bill Magnarelli, Common Council President Van Robinson, SU Chancellor Kent Syverud, and former Syracuse Mayor now DOT Commissioner Matt Driscoll.

Cuomo’s plan would ensure the state’s 36,000 farms, 2,200 processors, and 700 farm-based beverage producers pay no tolls, saving them $5 million a year.  Tolls would be cut in half for passenger vehicles who use EZ pass and pay $50 or more per year in tolls.  Business and commercial vehicle owners who rack up between $100 and $9,999 on their EZ passes will also get a 50 percent discount.  Cuomo says there will be no increase in tolls for all drivers until 2020. 


As he usually does, Cuomo tied in a number of other issues to his visit to Central New York.  Be sure to listen to the extended audio below:

Governor Cuomo also addressed the threat of terrorism, and how it adds to the state government's full plate.

What does economic development have to do with terrorism? Listen to find out.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at