New York lawmakers want to thwart potential toll increases at the state Thruway for the first time in more than a decade. 

But those in the construction industry, as well as the Thruway Authority itself, believe the hikes are necessary in order to shore up aging infrastructure on the 496-mile system. 

The Thruway Authority's board on Monday is set to vote to set the toll increase process into motion by launching a public comment period on the issue. Any toll increase won't be in place until 2024 at the earliest. 

Authority officials are considering a 5% increase in 2024 and another 5% hike in 2027 for E-Z Pass users. Drivers who do not have E-Z Pass could see an increase of 75%. And on the Mario Cuomo Bridge, tolls could increase by 50 cents a year between 2024 and 2027, reaching $7.75. 

The potential plan has led to a bipartisan outcry from lawmakers in Albany as motorists already contend with high gas prices and inflation. 

"I see this has nothing more than a cash grab in the middle of some pretty tough times," said state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, a Democrat who has called for a toll freeze. "If they vote for this, they really ought to be ashamed of themselves. We see families out there struggling, they're just getting back to work. In upstate, our economy is based on commuting. We drive everywhere we go."

Republican state Sen. Jim Tedisco wants any toll increases to be justified to lawmakers and allow the Legislature to veto hikes.  

"The law should say you come before the New York state Legislature, you're bureaucrats, you're not elected officials," Tedisco said. "We'll question you and you show us why."

If granted final approval, the toll increase would be the first in 14 years for E-Z Pass users and the Thruway Authority has long pointed to the need to shore up infrastructure with the tolls that amount to user generated fees. 

"As a tolling authority, we receive no state, federal or local tax dollars to support our operations, and when effective, we will not have had a system-wide toll increase for NY E-ZPass customers in 14 years," said spokesman Jon Dougherty. "This is a responsible financial plan to ensure the Authority will meet its growing capital and infrastructure needs for a system that is approaching 70 years in age."

Associated General Contractors President Mike Elmendorf believes the criticism from lawmakers is missing the point. 

"I get that this is a fun thing for politicians to beat on like a pinata," he said. 

But he argues there's been an under investment in the Thruway Authority and questions whether the toll hikes being proposed are enough to make important improvements for roads and bridges. 

"They are absolutely playing catch up and their conditions show it," he said. "The amount of pavements that have gone from good or excellent condition to fair or poor condition has increased, bridges are getting old and people who drive on the Thruway see it."