Higgins, Others to Call For Use of Existing Money For Electronic Tolls

Canalside Funding Model Could Help Pay for Cashless System

Dave Debo
August 28, 2017 - 5:46 am

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(WBEN)  Now that state officials have announced plans to get rid of the toll barriers and go all electronic at the Grand Island Bridges, the push is on to have a similar "drive now, pay later " system at the Lackawanna and Williamsville barriers, and the effort  just might get a boost from a template that funded startup of Buffalo's Canalside. 

 Monday afternoon a group of state lawmakers, Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa, and Congressman Brian Higgins will call on the state to take some of the existing revenue it has and spend it on the conversion of the Williamsville and Lackawanna barriers to the same system just announced for Grand Island last week,

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on Grand Island on Tuesday to announce that the toll booths at the Grand Island bridges will be removed and replaced with a high-speed cashless toll system.   Motorists with E-ZPass will see the charges on their Thruway account, while drivers without E-Zpass will have their license plates scanned by cameras and be sent a bill in the mail.

The push to see something similar at the other bridges today is expected later today. and is likely to include a "follow the money" strategy that Higgins used successfully to get the initial funding from the New York Power Authority to develop Canalside . During that discussion, Higgins pressed for the authority to open their books and show that money made off the Niagara Power project, was --or could be--- re-invested here. 

NYS Sen, Chris Jacobs has a similar measure pending in the legislature asking for money raised here, to be spent here. 

"We have a good precedent in the NYPA proceeds.  That was a situation here the state was benefiting from our municipality, but there was a sharing of the proceeds going to the communities that were impacted," Jacobs said in an appearance Sunday on WBEN's Hardline program.

 Grand Island Supervisor Nate Mc Murray says such an effort has another Canalside parallel too, with Higgins and others being able to call for the Thruway Authority to open their books and demonstrate spending in Western New York.

HEAR MORE : Jacobs and McMurray on WBEN's Hardline with Dave Debo ( Sunday 10am-12noon) 

A news conference that is likely to include that call for more accountability is set for this afternoon

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