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Nozzolio wants canals under NYS Parks control

In an effort to fight toll increases on the Thruway, New YorkState Senator Michael F. Nozzolio today announced that he will sponsorlegislation that would remove the financial responsibility of the State’scanal system from the New York Thruway Authority. The transfer of thecanal system would remove a significant expenditure from the ThruwayAuthority and reduce the need for Thruway toll increases.In a December interview with the Albany Times Union, Thruway AuthorityExecutive Director Michael Fleischer was quoted as saying the canal “is aburden for the Thruway and the Thruway’s users.” Fleischer has stated hissupport for removing the Canal Corporation from the Thruway Authority,saying that the cost savings would avert increases in commuter tolls andfund more road projects.“The maintenance of the State canal system has been a financial burden forthe Thruway Authority and is the major reason that Thruway tolls areincreasing,” said Senator Nozzolio. “This important legislation wouldallow the Thruway Authority to discontinue their financial commitment tothe State’s canal system, and pass the savings onto residents by reducingcurrent toll prices on the Thruway.”Under the legislation, the canals would become part of the State’s Parkssystem. Upkeep and maintenance of the canals would be funded through thebudget of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and HistoricPreservation as well through the collection of fees to use the canals.The Thruway Authority does not receive state funding for the maintenanceand operation of the New York State Thruway; the Authority relies solely onthe collection of tolls to fund expenses. Since 1992, the CanalCorporation has functioned as a department within the Thruway Authority,causing a significant financial burden for the Thruway Authority. Thelegislation would allow the Thruway Authority to withdraw their funding ofthe canal system, reducing the need for Thruway toll increases.The canal system remains a major tourism and recreational attraction forNew Yorkers and visitors to the State. Under the State Office of Parks,Recreation and Historical Preservation, the canal system would remain fullyfunded for operation and upkeep. In keeping with current State Parkpolicy, fees could be charged for use of the canals by boaters.Senator Nozzolio is sponsoring the legislation as part of his overallefforts to fight a toll increase on the Thruway. In addition to fightingto adopt the legislation, Senator Nozzolio successfully called for an auditof the Thruway Authority’s finances by the State Comptroller and has calledon Governor Spitzer and Thruway Authority Executive Director MichaelFleisher to reject any toll increases for New York’s residents.In November, Governor Spitzer pledged to secure over $200 million for theMetropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) so that bus and subway fareswould not be raised for New York City commuters. Senator Nozzolio calledfor the Governor to show the same concern for Upstate residents byrejecting a toll increase on the Thruway.“The New York State Thruway is a critical transportation link for all ofUpstate New York and is vital to the entire New York State economy. Tollincreases on the Thruway are a tax increase on the already overburdenedresidents in my Senate district and I will continue to do all possible tofight toll hikes,” concluded Senator Nozzolio.

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