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Judge Rules in ATA’s Favor in Toll Case

Judge Rules in ATA’s Favor in Toll Case

Tolls have always been a cost that truckers have had to contend with. But the use of this revenue source has sometimes deviated from its original purpose – maintaining roadways. But accusations had been made by multiple trucking companies and the American Trucking Associations that a percentage of New York toll revenues were unconstitutionally allocated to the state’s canal system.

A 2nd. US Circuit Court of Appeals Judge ruled in favor of their claim, maintaining that the 9 to 14 percent of Thruway toll revenue allocated to the New York State Canal System was indeed unconstitutional. ATA and the companies are seeking refunds for interstate truckers who drove on this route since Nov. 14, 2010.

The NYSCS is 524 miles long and includes bicycle trails, hiking areas, museums, and barges. The Judge, Colleen McMahon, wrote that the canals have received toll revenue in excess of $1 billion over the past 20 years. But this averages less than 1 percent of the upkeep and maintenance costs for the canal system.

ATA President and CEO Chris Spear agreed with the sentiment that interstate commerce should not be used to fuel the cost of the canal. He said: ““We hope today’s ruling will not only end this practice in New York, but dissuade other states from financing their budget shortfalls on the backs of our industry.”

The Thruway’s defense was based on a ruling in Automobile Club of New York vs. Port Authority. This case saw the court hold that bridge and tunnel tolls could be used to fund a train taking a parallel route as the train helped to reduce traffic.

However, given that the canal system is not a viable option for transporting cargo, this defense was not successful.

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