ATA considers next steps in NYS Thruway tolls challenge

Updated Aug 17, 2014

A federal judge last week threw out the American Trucking Association’s (ATA) class-action lawsuit against the New York State Thruway Authority that challenged its practice of using tolls collected on the 496-mile-long highway to fund the state’s canal system.


The ATA is considering what to do next.


Federal Judge Colleen McMahon in New York’s Southern District dismissed the case on procedural grounds. She said the State of New York needed to be part of the suit, but cited the 11th Amendment of the Constitution, which prevents parties from suing states in federal court. Her ruling was announced Aug. 6.


“This is a narrow procedural decision that did not address the merits of our claim that the Thruway tolling practice violates the Commerce Clause [of the U.S. Constitution],” said Rich Pianka, the ATA’s chief legal counsel.


The ATA brought the suit in November of 2013, claiming that in the last two decades the Thruway Authority spent more than $1 billion in toll revenue to fund the canal system. ATA also argued that tolls paid by truckers are “excessive in relation to the benefits” they receive, and sought restitution for four trucking companies in the state, affected ATA members and others.