Smoke and mirrors, dogs and ponies

By David Tanner, associate editor

Despite the overwhelming majority of testimony being against a 45 percent truck-only toll increase proposed for the New York State Thruway, the agency was still pushing ahead with the plan as we went to press. It’s not surprising.

Agency officials have done their best to ignore, downplay and turn away public input they received – more than 1,300 written comments and 100 oral comments during three so-called “public” hearings.

The hearing schedule was a disgrace to the very trucking community that stands to pay more. One of the hearings took place at a downtown library, while the other two were brief midday sessions at hotels. Who can break away from a work schedule to attend a hearing in the middle of the day by an agency not too keen on listening? And where was the truck parking? A few truckers still managed to attend and comment, but most said the hearings were a dog and pony show.

Concerned lawmakers threw some town hall meetings to gain more input, but the jury was still out whether those meetings will end up making a difference with the Thruway Authority or the governor.

The Thruway offices couldn’t possibly contain many mirrors, because the people there refuse to notice themselves when trying to find someone to blame for the agency’s financial situation. Instead, the executive director has turned the blame outward, going so far as to accuse long-haulers of tearing up the highway and not paying their fair share.

The agency lives in a bubble, and so does the nearby Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is also bent on sticking truckers with steep toll increases on their facilities.

Someone needs to deliver a load of mirrors to these people so they can take a good, hard look at themselves. Maybe then they’d see the real problem. LL