January 8, 2018
The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
Governor, State of New York
Albany, New York 12224
Dear Governor Cuomo:
On behalf of the Buffalo Niagara International Trade Gateway Organization (ITGO) and the Western New York regional logistics industry, we write in support of your comments in last Wednesday’s State of the State address in support of moving to at-speed, cashless tolls across the New York State Thruway system in Upstate New York.
Your announcement last year regarding the transition to at-speed, cashless tolls at the Grand Island bridges was met with widespread appreciation throughout the community. While the obvious beneficiaries are the residents of Grand Island, the change carries tremendous benefit to the flow of goods through our region, and ITGO’s stakeholders are hoping the momentum of that project carries over to similar changes at the Williamsville and Lackawanna toll barriers.
From a logistics perspective, the benefit of upgrading the tolls goes beyond even the environmental impacts of eliminating back-ups and idling, allowing freight to pass more freely through the region. Particularly in light of new driver hours-of-service regulations that went into effect in December, ease of moving freight via truck is a competitive advantage for any market seeking to attract and keep investment and jobs.
With Buffalo Niagara’s resurgence, and particularly in light of the type of resurgence it is – with the successful attraction of companies such as Panasonic and Amazon – an emphasis on regional systems such as logistics is critical to long-term sustainability and growth. ITGO is working closely with our economic development partners in the region to provide that point-of-view as planning and investment decisions are made. In many ways, enhancing our regional freight movement capabilities does not require sweeping, large-scale infrastructure projects, but smaller, tactical improvements like the replacement of the current toll barriers with at-speed, cashless facilities. We appreciate your leadership in moving the Thruway toll barrier initiative forward, and stand ready with any private sector support you need to see it through.
Craig W. Turner
Cc: Matt Driscoll, Executive Director, NYS Thruway Authority
Members of the WNY State Delegation