ATA sues New York Thruway over tolls

thruwayThe American Trucking Associations is suing to stop the New York State Thruway Authority’s practice of using millions in toll revenues for canal maintenance.

The Nov. 14 complaint seeks class action status for affected association members, four state trucking companies and similarly situated truckers. The plaintiffs want a permanent injunction against what they describe as discriminatory truck tolls that subsidize canals. They’re also seeking damages or restitution as determined by the U.S. District Court for New York’s Southern District.

Truckers pay rates “not based on a fair approximation of commercial truckers’ use” and “are excessive in relation to the benefits conferred on commercial truckers for paying those tolls,” they stated. These actions violate the constitutional protection of the Commerce Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clauses, which prohibit discrimination against interstate commercial activity and out-of-state residents, the ATA stated.

The association wants truck-toll rates to be based on fair approximation of use that will be proportional to benefits received.

Thruway officials spent $1.1 billion in canal maintenance and improvement by 2012, after state lawmakers transferred administration of 524-mile system to the NYSTA two decades earlier.

ATA chief counsel Richard Pianka said benefactors of canal tourism pay an insufficient amount to maintain the waterways that are subsidized by truck tolls. “The canal system generates plenty of economic activity for nearby towns, drawing hundreds of millions of tourism dollars to surrounding communities every year,” Pianka said. “But those who benefit from the canals pay a tiny fraction of their upkeep.