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THRUWAY LOOKS TO CAP TOLL HIKE FOR TRUCKS

State Thruway officials are preparing to scale back a proposed toll hike for certain trucks, which were facing rate increases as high as 100 percent under a systemwide toll increase plan due for final approval later this month.

The Thruway Authority, under a plan released in December, is looking to raise passenger car fares by 25 percent and truck fares by an average of 35 percent. The toll hike, intended to help pay for a new capital program, will bring toll revenues from about $440 million in 2004 to $608 million by 2006.

But the plan also includes simplifying the 43 different rate structures to nine, a change that would boost fares for many trucks significantly beyond the 35 percent average increase.

Michael Fleischer, executive director of the agency, confirmed Wednesday that the final toll plan will likely do something to cap the overall truck toll increase at about 35 percent on average. "We're looking at the best way to mitigate that impact," he said of the increase that has angered the state's trucking industry.

Fleischer would not say if he expected any changes in the proposed passenger fare increases. The Thruway board is slated to vote on the plan at its April 25 meeting.

William Joyce, president of the New York State Motor Truck Association, which represents 800 trucking companies, said many trucks would be hit with toll hikes of 60 percent to 100 percent -- not the 35 percent that was characterized by Thruway officials when the plan was first released.

The trucking group has already opposed a differential toll increase for cars and trucks.

"Our feeling is it's bad enough with their 25 percent plan for cars and 35 percent for trucks, but if you say it's going to be 35 percent then it should be 35 percent," Joyce said.

e-mail: tprecious@buffnews.com

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