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ATA Pleased by Court Win Over New York State Thruway Tolls


Contact: Sean McNally

August 10, 2016



ATA Pleased by Court Win Over New York State Thruway Tolls
Federal Court Holds State Cannot Divert Truck Tolls to Canal System


Arlington, Va. – Today, American Trucking Associations officials said they were pleased that a federal court ruled against New York State’s practice of using tolls paid by interstate truckers as a piggybank to finance unrelated tourism and recreation projects that make up the New York Canal System.


“ATA believed that the courts and Constitution were clear – revenue from tolls must be spent maintaining the roads they’re collected on and not diverted to finance bike paths and waterways for recreational kayaking and canoeing,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “We hope today’s ruling will not only end this practice in New York, but dissuade other states from financing their budget shortfalls on the backs of our industry.”


The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled in ATA’s favor in an August 10 opinion “because the Thruway Authority’s diversion of toll revenue collected from interstate truckers to maintain the Canal System violates the [Constitution’s] Dormant Commerce Clause.”


The Thruway Authority charges tolls for the use of several major arteries of interstate commerce, used by motor carriers to transport goods throughout the northeastern United States. Since 1992, the Thruway Authority has owned the state’s Canal System and as of 2012 had maintained and improved it to the tune of over $1.1 billion. In recent years, rising costs have reached over $100 million annually.


“It is certainly true that the Canal System is a valuable asset for the state of New York and the communities along it,” said ATA Acting General Counsel Rich Pianka. “However, the residents of the state and those communities – not trucks passing through the state – should bear the burden of supporting the Canal.”


In its ruling, the court agreed.


“The Canal system is a jewel in the crown of the Empire State, and some combination of New York taxpayers, local businesses benefitting from tourism revenue and the actual users of the Canal System’s many facilities should want to pay for its upkeep,” the Court said. “But … the State of New York cannot insulate the Canal System from the vagaries of the political process and taxpayer preferences by imposing the cost of its upkeep on those on drive the New York Thruway in interstate commerce.”


American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry America depends on most to move our nation’s freight. Follow ATA on Twitter or on Facebook. Trucking Moves America Forward