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Onondaga County legislators want tolls eliminated for travelers on Thruway within county

Doug Kerr
via Flickr

Onondaga County lawmakers on Tuesday will ask the state to consider eliminating tolls for local travelers on the New York State Thruway.

Lawmakers have asked the state to do this before, but were unsuccessful. But Legislator John Dougherty thinks the time is right to ask for a break for motorists getting on and off on one of the Thruway’s six exits in the Syracuse area.

"I think now we have a better chance of having it passed, being that our county executive is on the Thruway Board, being that 81 is on the verge of a major decision. Business hasn’t shuffled substantially, where we have people no longer moving east and west through the city. I think all the problems we had before still exist, and we have new ones on the horizon,” he said.

Onondaga County Legislator John Dougherty.

Dougherty notes says this is a good time for a change, considering the impending revamping of Interstate 81 through downtown Syracuse.

“So that’s going to put a ton of traffic on 481, 690 and I can only imagine the surface streets nearby. So if the tolls go away on the Thruway before that, or when that happens, it gives drivers another opportunity to go east-west through the city,” said the Republican from Liverpool.

Dougherty says more people using the Thruway would mean less congestion on local roads, which would then extend their lifespan.

Dougherty says travelers driving from Buffalo through to Albany would continue to pay the tolls, but motorists getting on and off between exits 34A and 39 would not have to pay. The legislature will vote on the idea at its next session on Tuesday. Dougherty says after that he will bring it up to Onodnaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, who is chair of the State Thruway Authority.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.