ATA PREVAILS IN LAWSUIT CHALLENGING NY THRUWAY USE OF TOLLS TO FUND CANALS

On August 10th, a federal judge in New York ruled that the New York Thruway’s practice of using money collected from highway tolls to support the state’s canal system violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause by imposing a substantial burden on interstate commerce. The court held that truckers who pay Thruway tolls receive no actual or potential benefit from the canals, thus violating Supreme Court precedent on user fees charged for access to interstate commerce facilities.

 

The decision squarely rejects the use of highway tolls as a way for states to avoid difficult revenue and spending decisions. As the court put it, “the State of New York cannot insulate the Canal System from the vagaries of the political process and taxpayer preferences by imposing the cost of its upkeep on those who drive the New York Thruway in interstate commerce.”