Improved Thruway Guidance, Part 2.
Coinciding with the Interstate Designations.
This design is recommended for the Thruway system. This suggestion was inspired by a recent conversation with a Thruway employee, discussions with motorists that use the Thruway on a regular basis as well as those that have only utilized the Thruway once or twice.
The National Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices with New York State Supplement as adopted by the State of New York on September 13, 2007. This document applies to all roadways that are open to public travel in The Empire State. In addition, this document indicates the following for Interchange Exit Numbering, from the State Supplement:
Section 2E.28 Interchange Numbering
New York currently uses consecutive exit numbering on freeway and expressway interchanges. New York expects to eventually adopt a reference location exit numbering system and discontinue the use of cardinal directions suffixes as part of the exit number in favor of a suffix letter (e.g. A, B, C, etc.)
Since the New York State Thruway pre-dates the interstate system, a motorist traveling along the Thruway encounters mileposts counting backward (east to west instead of west to east) along Interstate 90. In addition, the mileposts (and interchange numbers) along Interstate 87 reset at zero at the beginning of the Thruway at the Westchester County line. For example, a northbound traveler would see I-87 Exit 14 for Mc Lean Ave followed by I-87 Exit 1 for Hall Place. Additionally, if this motorist would continue along Interstate 87 to a northern destination, for example, Lake George or Saratoga Springs, they would encounter an additional set of exit numbers once Interstate 87 departs the Thruway system. The same thing happens to an eastbound traveler along Interstate 90. This is at best a cumbersome arrangement and is a considerable safety concern.
The mileposts along the Thruway system are in need of replacement. Many of them are older than a decade. In addition the tenth mile markers along the Thruway are not readily visible as they are blue-on-white. In Upstate New York a white tenth-mile marker can be very difficult to spot, especially during the winter months.
The mileposts should conform to the Interstate designation and not to the Thruway. This should be implemented in preparation for an eventual change to a distance based interchange numbering system. However, because of the history associated with the Thruway, the following modification should be made to the Enhanced Reference Location Signs design as found in the Standard Highway Signs manual.
The addition of a "TWY XX" line at the bottom of these markers maintain continuity with the Thruway System. I had originally considered including a Thruway trailblazer on this design but I felt it impeded the legibility of the sign message.
In addition, I recommend the following tenth mile markers, as found in many other states throughout the country. Again I suggest the use of a "T" number along the bottom to indicate the Thruway location. The main milepost would indicate the mileage for that particular interstate designation.
Milepost markings on bridges, etc. would not need to be changed as motorists are more likely to reference their location by overpass markers and a nearby milepost than on these mile based bridge markings. With the implementation of both systems on common markers there would be no reason to change internal documentation.
To maintain continuity with the entire Thruway system, all sign panels and independently mounted route markers should include a Thruway trailblazer to let the motorist know that they are on the Thruway system. This suggestion is based on precedent from the Massachusetts Turnpike.
I firmly believe that motorist safety can be improved along the Thruway corridor with these implementations. In addition, it prepares the Thruway for an eventual transition to distance based interchange numbers that would conform to the standards established by the National MUTCD.
This suggestion should be implemented immediately.