Thruway History


The New York State Thruway: 1951-1960

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

February 5, 1951 State Legislature approved for necessary second time a concurrent resolution to amend State Constitution to place State credit behind 500 million dollars worth of Thruway bonds.
May 2, 1951 Department of the Army granted to Authority a permit to construct a Hudson River Bridge between Tarrytown and Nyack.
September 13, 1951 One-mile segment of Thruway in Buffalo between Court Street and Porter Avenue opened to traffic on a toll-free basis.
October 15, 1951 Madigan-Hyland, Thruway's engineering consultants, reported to Authority on its study of traffic and revenue potential to Thruway.
October 29, 1951 A 3.6-mile toll-free segment of Thruway east of City of Buffalo opened to traffic from Walden Avenue to Cleveland Drive.
November 6, 1951 State's voters approved by 4-1 margin the Constitutional Amendment for Thruway bonds.
January 1, 1952 A 24-mile Thruway section between Liverpool and Canastota opened to traffic on a toll-free basis.
March 31, 1952 Thruway negotiated first loan backed by State credit. Syndicate headed by Chase National Bank of the City of New York took 60 million dollars of short-term notes at interest rate of 1.10%
May 5, 1953 Authority sold its first issue of State-guaranteed bonds, in the amount of $125,000,000.
June 11, 1953 Authority repaid New York State $25,919601.23, representing funds committed to Thruway work by Public Works Department prior to creation of Thruway Authority in March, 1950.
July 17, 1953 Authority received high bids from three restaurant companies for five-year leases on Thruway Service Areas between New York City and Buffalo.
September 15, 1953 Authority sold second issue of $125,000,000 of State-guaranteed bonds.
October 12, 1953 First of eight concrete caissons for the Tappan Zee Bridge floated down Hudson River from Grassy Point to bridge site for buoyant foundations of bridge's main span.
December 7, 1953 A 3.2-mile section on western end of Thruway's Ontario Section opened to toll-free traffic in Buffalo between Walden Avenue and intersection of Harlem Road and Dingens Street.
December 16, 1953 A 9.4-mile section from Saugerties to Route 28, Kingston, opened on toll-free basis.
April 7, 1954 Governor Dewey signed legislation permitting Authority to issue additional revenue bonds, not backed by State Credit.
April 16, 1954 Authority announced toll schedule for Thruway between Spring Valley and Buffalo.
April 18, 1954 Authority announced speed limits for Thruway.
May 5, 1954 Last of high bids received from oil companies for gasoline stations leases on Thruway, total of nine brands to be available to motorists.
May 18, 1954 Authority announced use of Lehigh Valley Railroad right-of-way for Thruway route into downtown Buffalo.
June 16, 1954 Authority received bids for sale of $300,000,000 in revenue bonds.
June 24, 1954 First toll section of Thruway opened on 115-mile stretch between Rochester and Lowell, west of Utica.
August 26, 1954 Second toll section of Thruway opened from Rochester to Buffalo, to add 63 miles to operating section.
September 20, 1954 Eastern terminus of Thruway extended 5 miles, from Route 26 in Lowell to Route 233 Interchange at Westmoreland.
October 1, 1954 Thruway Authority purchased Lehigh Valley Railroad right-of-way in Buffalo for Niagara Section for $6,950,000.
October 26, 1954 Operating Thruway extended from Westmoreland to Newburgh (183 miles) to make total 366 miles. Governor Dewey participated in motorcade celebration in Utica.
October 27, 1954 Authority permits motorcycles to use Thruway.
November 27, 1954 Authority announced special program of winter maintenance for Thruway.
December 7, 1954 Authority sold $50,000,000 in additional revenue bonds.
December 9, 1954 Twenty-two State Troopers and 57 patrol cars added to Thruway Patrol. Authority announced program to build 11 State Police barracks along route.
December 11, 1954 Gift certificates are available for purchase of Annual Permits.
December 22, 1954 Fifteen-mile section from Newburgh to Harriman opened to traffic.
January 4, 1955 Staff reorganization announced for Authority with Holden A. Evans Jr., as General Manager.
January 11, 1955 Authority announced that motor vehicles traveled 205,138,657 miles on Thruway in 1954 with five fatalities.
March 4, 1955 First permanent service area opened at Junius Ponds near Geneva.
May 19, 1955 Authority announced plan to add 81 directional signs to Thruway to guide motorists to major resort areas and communities along the route.
May 27, 1955 Fourteen-mile section from Harriman to Hillburn opened to traffic.
June 24, 1955 First anniversary of Thruway toll opening. Total of 8,700,000 trips made by motor vehicles with mileage totaling 522,000,000.
July 1, 1955 Hillburn-Suffern Section of Thruway opened (1 mile) to extend operating portion ot New Jersey border.
July 14, 1955 Preliminary route of Berkshire Section announced by Authority, which requested approval from Department of Army to build Berkshire Bridge across Hudson.
July 29, 1955 Three additional permanent service areas opened, at Canastota, LeRoy and South Schenectady.
August 4, 1955 Permanent service area opened at Clifton Springs.
August 12, 1955 Schenectady-Route 5S Interchange opened to traffic.
August 12, 1955 Permanent service area opened at Pattersonville.
October 11, 1955 State Comptroller, acting as agent for Authority, sold $50,000,000 in State-guaranteed bonds.
October 31, 1955 Buffalo Evening News bid $551,000 at public sale for surplus properties acquired by Authority from Lehigh Railroad in City of Buffalo.
December 7, 1955 State Comptroller sold 50 million dollars in State-guaranteed Thruway bonds, to bring State-guaranteed total to 350 million dollars.
December 15, 1955 Suffern-Yonkers Section, including three-mile Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson between Tarrytown and Nyack, opened to traffic with formal ceremonies, increasing the operating mileage to 423.
August 31, 1956 Final three-mile section through Yonkers opened to complete 426-mile New York City-Buffalo Mainline.
October 28, 1956 The speed limit for qualified buses was raised from 50 to 60 miles per hour, except where lower speeds are posted for other passenger vehicles.
January 2, 1957 Buddies Food Service Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, operator of "Holiday House" restaurants, took over operation of the nine Thruway restaurants between Syracuse and Buffalo that formerly were operated by Restaurant Associates, Inc. of New York City.
January 24, 1957 B. D. Tallamy, Chairman of the Authority since its creation by the Legislature in 1950, resigned to become Federal Highway Administrator.
January 25, 1957 The Authority announced that Thruway revenues in 1956 totaled $26,448,313 -- up 59 per cent from 1955.
January 28, 1957 David J. Martin, Vice Chairman of the Authority since March 1950, was named Acting Chairman.
February 8, 1957 Two parking areas were opened between Albany and Kingston, on the northbound lane at Milepost 99 and on the southbound lane at Milepost 139.
March 6, 1957 Two parking areas were opened near Fultonville, on opposite sides of the Thruway at Milepost 184.
April 9, 1957 The Indian Castle Service Area was officially opened at Milepost 210, eastbound, and the New Baltimore Service Area at Milepost 127 on the same side. With the opening of the Indian Castle facility, the last temporary service area on the New York-Buffalo Thruway, at the Utica Interchange, was closed.
May 27, 1957 Parking Areas were opened on the eastbound lane at Milepost 250 and Milepost 353, and on the westbound lane at Milepost 256 and Milepost 318. These brought to nine the number of parking areas opened between New York City and Buffalo.
May 28, 1957 The Sloatsburg Service Area at Milepost 33, northbound, began serving patrons at the large snack bar, pending completion of all of its extensive facilities.
June 1, 1957 The New York Convention and Visitors Bureau in New York City became the official distribution center for Thruway travel information for motorists living in and visiting the metropolitan area.
June 6, 1957 Acting Chairman David J. Martin announced that the installation of protective guide railing around the piers of all overhead bridges was being undertaken as an additional safety provision along the entire Thruway.
August 21, 1957 A 41-mile portion of the Erie Section was opened to traffic, from the Pennsylvania State line eastward to the Silver Creek Interchange. This marked the first extension of the Thruway at the border of a neighboring state.
August 30, 1957 A three-mile direct, toll-free connection between the New York Thruway near Spring Valley and New Jersey's Garden State Parkway was opened to traffic.
October 25, 1957 Acting Chairman David J. Martin announced that the Harriman Section had won the Authority's first annual maintenance award for excellent performance during the preceding 12 months.
November 5, 1957 A formal procedure was inaugurated to aid motorists in recovering articles lost by them along the Thruway.
November 30, 1957 David J. Martin, who served as Vice Chairman of the Thruway from March 27, 1950 until this date, and as Acting Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since January 28, 1957, died in White Plains.
December 2, 1957 Governor Averell Harriman appointed Colonel Clinton B. F. Brill of New York City, Chairman of the Thruway Authority.
December 14, 1957 The final 29-mile link in the Erie Section was opened to traffic, extending from the Silver Creek Interchange to join the Thruway's Mainline at Buffalo. This established an unbroken Thruway route of 496 miles from New York City to the Pennsylvania State Line, and made the Thruway the longest toll highway in the world. Total Thruway mileage in operation was increased to 506.
January 15, 1958 The Thruway established a new safety record in 1957, when the fatality rate dropped to 1.94 deaths for each 100,000,000-vehicle miles traveled. Total distance covered on the Thruway during the year was 1,777,545,210 miles.
January 31, 1958 Thruway revenues in 1957 totaled a record $31,064,076.
May 10, 1958 The Authority announced that reflectorized, four-inch striping was being painted along both edges of the pavement throughout the 506 miles of dual roadways and along all ramps to facilitate safe driving on the Thruway.
September 29, 1958 Extra mileage fees formerly charged for travel on the Thruway by over-dimensional vehicles were eliminated by the Authority in a move to increase overall commercial revenues.
October 8, 1958 The 18-mile portion of the Berkshire Section between Route 9 and the junction with the Massachusetts Turnpike at the New York-Massachusetts border southeast of Albany was opened to traffic. Following the opening ceremonies the Authority honored representatives of major trucking firms and organizations at a formal "Salute to the Motor Truck Industry" luncheon, at which an announcement was made of modification of the "bridge formula" to remove former technical restrictions on trucks traveling on the Thruway.
October 18, 1958 The 15-mile New England Section was opened to traffic, establishing a new six-lane expressway route between Bruckner Boulevard in New York City and the Connecticut Turnpike at the New York-Connecticut line near Port Chester. This increased the Thruway's operating mileage to 539.
October 20, 1958 Distribution began of the first four-colored Thruway map folder published by the Authority.
January 1, 1959 An increase of three-tenths of a cent a mile in the toll rate for Class 1 and Class 3 vehicles became effective, together with increases for Class 2 and Class 4 vehicles. The price of Annual Permits was raised from $20 to $40. These increases in rates, necessitated by rising costs of operation and maintenance, were the first since the Thruway was opened in June 1954.
January 2, 1959 The Authority announced a record low fatality rate on the Thruway for 1958 of 0.92 accidental deaths for each 100,000,000-vehicle miles traveled.
January 8, 1959 A new road condition information service was inaugurated at all interchange entry lane and barrier toll booths, to advise patrons of any hazardous weather conditions. Toll Collectors post special bulletin board messages, received via Thruway Communications radio.
March 16, 1959 L. Judson Morhouse of Ticonderoga was appointed a member of the Authority by Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller and subsequently was elected Vice Chairman.
March 31, 1959 Thruway Authority's annual report showed that gross revenue hit a record $34,908,052 in 1958, but financial needs totaled $37,504,224, leaving $2,596,172 to be paid out of bond proceeds.
April 8, 1959 American Oil Co. submitted high bid for operating gasoline stations on the Berkshire Section: 7.89 cents a gallon plus 10 per cent of the gross receipts.
April 27, 1959 The Authority announced that the passenger-0car toll for crossing the Castleton-on-Hudson Bridge would be 25 cents.
May 26, 1959 The remainder of the Berkshire Section, six miles from the Mainline to the Albany Post Road, was opened, linking the Thruway with the Massachusetts Turnpike.
July 1, 1959 The Authority approved use of tandem trailers on the Thruway and discontinued special tools for empty-truck trips.
July 30, 1959 Two portions, totaling eight-miles, of the Niagara Section were opened, leaving a six-mile portion in Buffalo as the last portion of the Thruway to be opened.
August 19, 1959 The Authority sold a 50-million-dollar issue of revenues bonds at a new interest cost of 4.1996 per cent.
November 5, 1959 The Authority and oil companies operating Thruway gasoline stations approved new five-year contracts expected to cut about 10 per cent from the price of fuel along the Thruway.
November 6, 1959 The West Henrietta Maintenance Section was announced as the winner of the annual Maintenance Award.
November 7, 1959 Emergency Service procedures were revised, with Thruway gasoline stations handling roadside repairs and private off-Thruway garages continuing to handle towing and major mechanical work. State Police cars and most Thruway vehicles were equipped with gasoline and water to help disabled motorists free.
November 7, 1959 The Mobil Oil Company was the high bidder on operation for service stations at the Ardsley and Seneca Service Areas. Socony's Ardsley bid was 4.61 cents a gallon and the Seneca bid was 6.85 cents a gallon.
November 9, 1959 The Authority inaugurated an Emergency Patrol to supply drivers of disabled vehicles along the Thruway with gasoline, water and the loan of small tools. This plan supplemented the regular program, which authorized the Thruway gas stations to handle roadside repairs and to let off-Thruway garages handle towing and major repairs -- a job they had handled before.
December 2, 1959 The Authority rejected a portion of the Berkshire Section as unsatisfactory and directed the contractor to begin corrective work.
January 8, 1960 Colonel Clinton B. F. Brill resigned as Chairman and a member of the Thruway Authority.
February 10, 1960 Allied Van Lines, major shipper of household goods, announced that it would begin operating tandem trailers on the Thruway.
March 25, 1960 Governor Rockefeller appointed R. Burdell Bixby of Hudson, a member of the Authority and its Secretary-Treasurer since the agency was created in 1950, Chairman.
May 27, 1960 The Authority fixed a speed limit of 60 miles per hour for all vehicles except tandem trailers, effective June 1. The limit for tandems remains at 50.
June 25, 1960 The Union News Company took over operation of the two restaurants on the Berkshire Section. They were previously managed by Riese Enterprises, Inc.
July 18, 1960 Motorola Communications and Electronics Inc. of Fair Lawn, N. J. was awarded a three-year contract for maintenance of the Thruway-s cross-State Radio communications system. Motorola's bid of $8,328 per month was the lowest of four offered.
August 2, 1960 A tourist information center, operated by The Society for the Genesee and the Lakes, was opened at the Scottsville Service Area.
September 2, 1960 The final six miles of the northbound portion of the Niagara Section was opened on a toll-free basis.
September 8, 1960 The Authority sold a 50-million-dollar issue of State-guaranteed bonds at a new interest rate of 3.4612 per cent. This was the last of the 500 million backed by the credit of the State of New York.
November 10, 1960 The Berkshire Section won the Fourth Annual Maintenance Award.
December 23, 1960 The final six miles of the southbound portion of the Niagara Section was opened, placing in operation all 559 miles of the Thruway System.
December 27, 1960 The Cross-Westchester Expressway was opened to traffic, providing a direct link between the Mainline and the New England Section.