Lawmaker pushes for toll-free commute

One local assemblyman is trying to give area commuters a free ride.

Assemblyman Tim Gordon, I-Bethlehem, has sponsored a bill that would let local commuters drive on the Thruway between exits 22 and 24 for free.

The bill, A.7053-A, was passed in the state Assembly but must go to the Senate for passage before it can become a law. Gordon sponsored the same bill last year, which was also passed by the Assembly, but it never made it to the Senate floor for a vote, he said.

The Assembly passed Gordon's bill by a vote of 79-to-44, and he is urging the Senate to do the same.

Rising costs in almost every area are putting more and more of a strain on all of our wallets, but this plan will help to ease costs for commuters while also helping to ease congestion on local roads, Gordon said. "Additionally, this plan has fail safes in place to ensure it will not adversely affect the state's ability to maintain the Thruway. Our families deserve immediate relief."

Gordon said because people try to avoid paying tolls on the Thruway, which he pointed out can add up to hundreds of dollars a year in some cases, drivers are being displaced onto other roads.

The assemblyman said his bill would help make local roadways safer, authorizing the Thruway Authority to issue free short-distance commuter permits between exits 22 and 24.

The bill would also give the authority the discretion to restrict the permits to use only during peak commuter hours and allow them to charge a reduced rate if the program creates too much loss in revenue.

However, Gordon pointed out, a public hearing must be held before any fee can be put in place.

Gordon also authored legislation that provides the free commuter permits to motorists using the B-1, B-2, and B-3 Berkshire connectors (A.10179).

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