YONKERS – New York State Thruway drivers would no longer have to wait in line and shell out $1.25 at the Yonkers toll plaza under legislation calling again for its removal.
The Yonkers City Council votes tonight on a resolution reiterating its support for a pair of bills in the state Legislature directing the Thruway Authority to discontinue the toll plaza near Exit 6A. The legislation has repeatedly stalled in Albany.
According to the latest council resolution, discontinuing the tolls would “relieve a significant amount of traffic congestion that occurs on a daily basis” near the plaza. Tolls range from $1.25 for passenger cars to $5 for trucks.
Yonkers Council President Chuck Lesnick said that northbound drivers attempting to bypass the toll plaza add to traffic congestion and potential road hazards on nearby city streets.
Supporters of removing the toll plaza also say it would help Yonkers keep its competitive edge as a regional shopping destination.
The plaza is across from a popular Stew Leonard’s, Costco and Home Depot and near the Austin Avenue site where New Jersey developer the Morris Co. is seeking approval to build new big-box stores, including a Target, and 400 apartments. Less than a mile down the road is Westchester’s Ridge Hill, a massive retail-residential development featuring dozens of stores, a cinema, a new Lego theme park and a luxury apartment complex.
State data suggests that five other Authority-run toll sites handled more trips than the Yonkers toll plaza in March while two others handled fewer.
This isn’t the first time local officials have sought to remove the toll plaza.
Lesnick said the council has backed state legislation calling for the change in each of the past eight years he’s been the body’s president.
The Westchester County Board of Legislators in 1998 unanimously supported a bill sponsored in Albany that would have eliminated the then-50-cent Thruway toll in Yonkers. However, the effort fizzled amid resistance from the Authority, which maintained that the bill was unconstitutional because the Authority, not the state Legislature, has the power to decide toll policy.
Authority spokesman Dan Weiller declined to comment Tuesday.
The Thruway board recently voted to allow an all-electronic cashless tolling system after officials test the idea. Tests will include Thruway facilities in Yonkers and Harriman.
An all-electronic system improves traffic flow because it doesn’t require toll barriers where drivers either stop to pay or slow down for a scan of their E-ZPass tags. For drivers without transponders, video cameras on the gantry take photos of their license plates. The toll agency then sends a bill to the address where the vehicle is registered.