State Chooses to Keep Williamsville Toll Records Secret

11:55 PM, Oct 8, 2012   |    comments
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The Williamsville toll barrier.

AMHERST, NEW YORK - The Town of Amherst just got a chilly response from the state Department of Transportation, which is denying documents related to efforts to move the Williamsville tolls.

In August, the town filed a request for information to know what happened to millions of dollars that was supposed to move the tolls east.

Leaders in Amherst and the village of Williamsville call the state's decision to keep information secret relating to the toll project "deflating" and like "being in prison."



"Move the toll barrier, release the volume, unshackle Williamsville, unshackle southern Amherst, these are catalyst communities in western New York," said Brian Kulpa, the mayor of Williamsville.

But this reality will continue.

Amherst council members approved a Freedom of Information request that asked for the state to deliver all information relating to the project and answer this question: What happened to six million dollars in federal money that was supposed to go to construction?

"The New York state Department of Transportation denied our request for information, the New York State Thruway Authority has delayed, so we're hopeful to still get that information so that we can hold them accountable, and to also show them that we're serious and want them to move forward on this project," said Jay Anderson, an Amherst council member.

But that doesn't seem like it's going to happen. The Thruway writes in a statement to 2 On Your Side that it is, "evaluating options that address the Williamsville Toll Barrier project's objectives. These options include, new designs and technologies that have been developed since the project was initially conceived," said Dan Weiller, director of public affairs for the Thruway.

The agency also adds a bleak outlook for the future saying, "The project is currently not included in the approved 2012 to 2015 Capital Plan, although that plan is subject to ongoing review and change."

The project was proposed in 1997. It called for the toll barrier to be moved 20 miles east towards Pembroke. The move would take the exhaust from idling vehicles away from densely populated suburbs.



"I'm not going to assess whether they care or not, but our intention is to make sure that they're aware of western New York and our voice behind this issue," said Anderson of the authority.

Amherst Council says it wants to see what it gets from the Thruway if anything, before appealing the state's decision to withhold information.

A new federal environmental impact study is still being put together, but there's no timetable for it to be release.

In August, 2 On Your Side's Aaron Saykin, filed a Freedom of Information request for WGRZ. The Thruway Authority says that WGRZ should a get a response by November 8.




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