Jacobs decries GI bridge toll oversight

Chris Jacobs

A state senator from Western New York says until Canadian drivers are required by the New York State Thruway Authority to pay tolls on the Grand Island bridges, all motorists should be allowed to forego paying tolls on the bridges as well. 

In a letter to Matthew Driscoll, executive director of the state's thruway authority, State Sen. Chris Jacobs of Buffalo called for suspension of tolls on the Grand Island bridges until an oversight that currently allows Canadian drivers to cross both bridges at no cost is resolved. 

“It is simply unfair that New York state taxpayers and American citizens must pay tolls or receive fines while Canadian drivers have a ‘free ride,’” said Jacobs. “Why the Thruway Authority would not have negotiated this agreement with the Canadians before going to cashless tolling on the bridges is shocking to me."

Canadian drivers can drive at no cost over the Grand Island bridges because no agreement exists between the Thruway Authority and the Canadian provinces to charge Canadian license plates. As a comparison, Jacobs pointed to the 407 Toll Road to Toronto where he noted that all New York drivers must pay the toll when they drive that Canadian roadway.

Jacobs also noted that thousands of Canadians pass over the Grand Island bridges on a regular basis, meaning millions of dollars are being lost due to the oversight.

“In a way, U.S. drivers are subsidizing the roads for Canadians,” said Jacobs. “This needs to stop.”