Already, one local politician is getting an earful with the news tolls might take another big jump.
An announcement from the state Thruway Authority that tolls could increase 20 percent over the next four years is already generating outrage.
The Thruway Authority cites "funding gaps" as fewer drivers use the highway. Independent traffic consulting firm Stantec blames the reduced traffic on "continued historically high gasoline prices."
Assemblyman Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, said a hike in tolls will likely deter drivers even further.
As for a drop in traffic, Kolb is doubtful.
"I travel the Thruway every day and there seems to be a lot of traffic," he said. "I have not seen anything yet that would justify an increase."
Nor have Kolb's constituents. His office has fielded an increasing volume of calls from motorists vehemently opposed to any further increase.
Ali Fernaays commutes from the city of Rochester to work at Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Co. on South Main Street five days a week. She said she wants to know why motorists even pay tolls — wasn't that supposed to years ago, once the bonds to build the Thruway were paid off?
She has a good memory. The tolls were supposed to disappear in 1996, when bonds that financed construction were to have been paid off. But state officials abandoned that plan in the 1980s, arguing that users of the superhighway should pay for its maintenance instead of all taxpayers.
Fortunately, Fernaays doesn't have to worry too much about a toll increase. Her boyfriend bought her an E-ZPass as a Valentine's Day gift last year, and he still picks up the tab.
"But it's definitely going to hit hard for some people who travel it every day — especially with the high price of gas," she said.
At current costs, a commuter from Rochester into Canandaigua who takes the Thruway for the length of one exit pays 30 cents per day, which could mean as much as $78 per year.
Trucking company Mendon Enterprises Inc. already saw an increase in 2005 from $800 to more than $1,000 per month in tolls for a fleet of only seven trucks, according to Barry Chesler, office manager. For some truck types, the tolls were double or more.
"It depends on how much it goes up," said Chesler. "But basically, that increase is going to get passed on to the customers."
Philip Anselmo can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 322, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.