Thruway History: The Beginning

The New York State Thruway: The Beginning


The following is from a brochure entitled "Thruway Chronology", which was available at the Thruway exhibit at the 2002 State Fair.

1942 Bill adopted by State Legislature and signed by Governor that added the general route of a cross-State superhighway to the State's official highway map, thereby clearing the way for its planning, design and construction. Measure sponsored in the Assembly by Abbot Low Moffat, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and in the Senate by Senator William H. Hampton, of Utica. Bill became Chapter 914 of the Laws of 1942.
1944 Legislature, on recommendation of Governor Thomas E. Dewey, authorized the Department of Public Works to proceed with construction of the Thruway, as funds available for highways would permit.

Governor Dewey signed Legislation (Chapters 360 and 785, Laws of 1944) that established the routes of the Berkshire and New England Sections of the Thruway.
July, 1946 Ground broken at Liverpool, near Syracuse, by Governor Dewey for the first section of the cross-State superhighway. During the year, contracts also were let for Thruway work near Victor and in Greene and Ulster Counties.
May, 1948 Four-mile segment of Thruway, Canandaigua to Victor, opened to traffic on toll-free basis.
January, 1949 Ground broken for construction of 3.6-mile stretch of Thruway between Walden Avenue and Cleveland Drive in Buffalo.
February, 1950 A Special Committee was appointed by Governor Dewey to consider a new plan to expedite construction of the Thruway on a self-liquidating basis. Committee comprised of State Budget Director John E. Burton; Lewis L. Delafield, Bond Attorney; James F. Evans, Director of State Parks; M. J. Madigan, Consulting Engineer; State Comptroller Frank C. Moore, and B. D. Tallamy, State Superintendent of Public Works.
March 4, 1950 Special Thruway Committee submitted report, urging a self-liquidating finance procedure; creation of an autonomous authority to construct and finance the expressway; amendment of the State Constitution to place the State's credit behind Thruway Bonds.
March 21, 1950 Governor Dewey signed Thruway Law, based on Committee's recommendations. Chapter 143, Laws of 1950.
March 22, 1950 Governor Dewey appointed following as members of New York State Thruway Authority: R. Burdell Bixby of Hudson, Assistant Secretary to the Governor, for six-year term; David J. Martin of New York City, Civil Engineer, three-year term, and Bertram D. Tallamy, Superintendent of Public Works, nine-year term.
March 27, 1950 Three members of Thruway Authority held first meeting. Mr. Tallamy designated Chairman by Governor Dewey. Mr. Martin elected Vice Chairman and Mr. Bixby elected Secretary-Treasurer by Authority members. Madigan-Hyland of New York City, selected by Authority as consulting engineers to conduct traffic and financial surveys.
March 28, 1950 Holden A. Evans, Jr., Executive Assistant to the Superintendent of Public Works since July 1, 1948, appointed Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the Thruway Authority
July 14, 1950 Nine-mile segment of Thruway between Catskill and Saugerties opened to traffic on toll-free basis.
September 27, 1950 Chairman Tallamy announced assumption of jurisdiction by Authority of Grand Island Bridges between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, as first toll facility in Thruway System.
September 28, 1950 Authority signed agreement with group of banks and insurance companies for first borrowing, 10 million dollars in short-term notes, to pay off obligations of Niagara Frontier Authority for two Grand Island Bridges.
October 10, 1950 Transfer of jurisdiction of Grand Island Bridges completed.