GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. -- Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray told Time Warner Cable News last week that he is launching a campaign to get rid of the tolls on the Grand Island bridges.
"You can never get in or out unless you pay a toll. It's just not fair," McMurray said.
New York State Thruway Authority officials disagree. They say over the past five years, $120 million of toll money has been invested on capital improvement projects on the Grand Island bridges with another $47 million earmarked over the next two years. The stretch of I-190 across Grand Island is also slated to be re-paved this summer.
McMurray says the majority of the money made at the Grand Island tolls, though, doesn't stay on Grand Island.
"Almost all of it doesn't stay here. It goes somewhere else," McMurray said.
The Thruway Authority says all toll money is used for ongoing maintenance of the state's 570-mile superhighway and its bridges and overpasses.
The agency's website boasts eight major bridge structures along the Thruway. Of those, only Grand Island and the Tappan Zee Bridge have tolls.
When asked why that was, the Thruway Authority reiterated that all tolls are re-invested into the highway's infrastructure, including recent investments into Grand Island. They added, "There are no plans to remove tolls at Grand Island."
While McMurray and the Thruway Authority won't soon agree on whether the tolls should stay, they do share some common ground when it comes to introducing all electronic-cash free tolls.
"Having people there stationed in tolls that have their hand out, that are stopping the flow of traffic, is the real impediment," McMurray said.
The Thruway Authority says more than 35 bridges, tunnels and toll roads across the U.S. already have cashless options and they are introducing the technology on the New NY Bridge (replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge) later this spring.