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No toll hike, but Amherst officials want more from Thruway Authority

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Buffalo: No toll hike, but Amherst officials want more from Thruway Authority
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There will be no toll hike for truck drivers on the New York State Thruway. The Thruway Authority's budget was released Monday, and the proposed 45% increase is no longer part of the plan. YNN's Katie Morse tells us what will be included, and what it means for Western New York.

NEW YORK STATE — The Thruway Authority announced Monday its budget for the upcoming year won't include a 45% toll hike for commercial trucks.

A recent audit of the Authority showed it had poor fiscal practices, so officials say they're trying to turn things around.

"Cutting $25 million in operating costs in 2012 alone, and we've targeted more than 130 million dollars in savings and fiscal reforms over the next three years," said NYS Thruway Authority Executive Director Tom Madison.

Governor Cuomo says the toll hike was a last resort, because of the impact it would have had on business.

"Especially on behalf of Upstate New York, that has been struggling with an economy that has been less than robust for a long period of time," said Cuomo.

But while the promise of no toll hike is good for local commercial businesses, officials in the Town of Amherst say there's actually another important project the Thruway Authority needs to work on that would mean even more to the area, and that's removing those toll barriers in Williamsville.

"I'd like to see the Thruway Authority come through on funding for projects in Western New York," said Richard "Jay" Anderson. "The Williamsville toll barrier project has had an economic drain - an economic black hole of $100 million to Western New York business in the last 10 years."

Amherst town councilman Jay Anderson says the federal government promised upwards of $30 million for the project, but the Thruway Authority needs to take action to get the money - something he's hoping happens soon.

"It's great that the governor is showing some leadership with the Thruway Authority, the Thruway Authority is showing some leadership. I say some. It needs to be more, and it needs to be leadership for Western New York," he said.

Anderson says he's planning to meet with state officials in January to try and push the toll barrier project forward.

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