Officials ask state to postpone E-ZPass closure
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GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. — The E-ZPass walk in center on Grand Island, the only of its kind in the area that allows residents to purchase and reload their E-ZPass using cash, is set to close June 8.
Friday, Grand Island Supervisor Mary Cooke and fellow lawmakers asked the New York State Thruway Authority to postpone its closure until an alternative solution can be found.
"We understand that money needs to be saved; however, don't close it until you have a viable option for people who do not have computer access or credit cards," Cooke said.
According to Cooke, more than 110 residents visit the center that provides the state with $20 million in annual revenue every day. The site is one of three slated to close upstate, amounting to $1 million in savings for the Thruway Authority.
Centers in Albany and Syracuse are also set to close; Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs said the decision is one that favors downstate residents.
"This, to me, seems to be a trend in the state to really be downstate focused in terms of transportation needs," he said.
If the center does close next week, its four employees will likely be out of a job. Combined with a 45 percent proposed toll increase for commercial drivers at the bridges and Cooke said the region could lose its appeal come tourist season.
"That's our fear, that it will affect tourism in a very negative way because people will get stuck at the bridges," she said.
Assemblyman John Ceretto said the hike could also affect plans to turn the region into a cargo hub.
"We do not want that truck traffic to go around us, go through another state; we want them to go through New York State," he said.
Officials estimated that more than 50 percent of those who visit the center pay in cash.
A spokesperson for the Thruway Authority said they're researching alternatives methods for those who wish to make cash payments, in the meantime, but as of Friday afternoon, they have no plans to postpone the closure.
In the meantime, those wanting to pay cash for their E-ZPass can send a money order to the following address in Albany:
E-ZPass Service Center
P.O. Box 15185
Albany, N.Y. 12212-5185