Public Forum On Taking Down Grand Island Bridge Tolls

Calls to remove toll booths at Grand Island

Mike Baggerman
March 22, 2017 - 6:37 pm

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Roughly 30 people gathered in Niagara Falls on Wednesday evening for a public forum to discuss removal of the toll booths at the Grand Island Bridge. 

Concerns for residents are over the cost of using the toll booths. Though it only costs $1, a check presented said Western New York residents who take that route spend approximately $520.00 annually. There were also concerns over environmental factors, delays, and effects on the economy. 

"I just think anything is better than the status quo as we know it today," Brian Michel, who organized the event, said. "I am fighting to get the tolls taken out but if we could start with getting cashless tolls at least it's something. It solves half the problem. We're not going to be stuck waiting in traffic and stuck in our own pollution as we wait there."

Only a handful of people spoke at the event. One of them was Grand Island native Nancy Killian who brought up old state legislation which she said would have stopped the payment of the toll booths once the bridge was paid for in its entirety.

"We don't have any debt right now to justify those tolls," Killian said. "Why have cashless tolls if we can get rid of them entirely and not just for Grand Island residents but for everybody? The bridges have been paid for."

Another speaker was Grand Island resident and truck driver Mike Jablon who regularly commuted on the bridge. 

"It's time for these tolls to come out," Jablon said. "You shouldn't be coming home from work and sitting in traffic for 30 minutes every day trying to do that. Then you hear on the radio that there's a backup at the bridge. Then you're driving through Tonawanda and through Niagara Falls to go all the way around."

WBEN spoke with Chantel Huff, a health care professional from Lewiston, whose concerns revolved around medical emergencies such as a stroke.

"I feel that the Grand Island tolls cause a barrier and prevent emergency personnel to be able to travel from Niagara County to Erie County as fast as they possibly could."

State Senator Chris Jacobs introduced a bill in the state senate calling for removal of the bridge while Assemblyman Angelo Morinello introduced a similar bill in the state assembly. 

 

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