Thruway History

The New York State Thruway: 1961-1970


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

January 10, 1961 The fatality rate on the Thruway in 1960 was 1.96 deaths for each 100,000,000 miles traveled -- the third lowest rate in the history of the Thruway.
February 1, 1961 Thruway Rules and Regulations amended to make motorists subject to arrest for picking up or discharging a hitchhiker on the Thruway System.
February 2, 1961 Thruway Authority retained private engineering firm, headed by former Federal Highway Administrator B. D. Tallamy, to develop a long-range heavy maintenance program extending through 1975.
March 31, 1961 Authority issued its 11th Annual Report, noting gross revenues of $52,645,084 for 1960, and increased operating and debt service costs.
November 1, 1961 Governor Rockefeller appointed Charles R. Diebold, President of the Western Savings Bank of Buffalo, to the Thruway Authority Board for a term ending January 1, 1963. Mr. Diebold was elected Authority Treasurer
November 6, 1961 The Westfield Section won the fifth annual Maintenance Award.
January 10, 1962 The Authority reported that 79,259,523 vehicles traveled a total of 2,443,934,322 miles on the Thruway during 1961. Both figures represented new records.
February 21, 1962 Dr. Bertram D. Tallamy completed a survey of the Thruway's long-range maintenance requirements, recommending reserving $56,828,000 over the next 14 years to keep the superhighway in top condition.
February 27, 1962 The Authority sold a 72-million dollar issue of General Revenue Bonds, Series D, at a net interest rate of 3.6429 per cent.
March 31, 1962 In its 12th Annual Report, the Authority announced a record $57,548,409 in gross revenues for 1961.
April 9, 1962 The maximum speed limit on most of the Thruway System was increased to 65 miles an hour.
September 24, 1962 A $7,728,283 contract for construction of a second North Grand Island Bridge on the Niagara Section was awarded to Stimm Associates, Inc. of Buffalo.
October 11, 1962 Governor Rockefeller broke ground for the second North Grand Island Bridge and dedicated the second South Bridge, both on the Niagara Section.
November 21, 1962 A "convoy" system was developed to escort groups of vehicles through any section of Thruway where weather makes travel hazardous. With snowplows and a State Police car leading the way, tow trucks and other Thruway vehicles would accompany the string of vehicles.
January 4, 1963 The Authority announced that a steel barrier would be installed, as a safety measure, in the center mall between traffic lanes wherever the mall is less than 20 feet wide. About 15 miles of barrier will be erected at the cost of $700,000.
January 8, 1963 L. Judson Morhouse of Ticonderoga, Vice Chairman since his appointment March 16, 1959, resigned from the Authority.
January 30, 1963 Thruway Communications began daily transmission of its road condition reports over the U. S. Weather Bureau's Albany Teletype circuit, making them available for cross-State and national distribution.
February 4, 1963 Governor Rockefeller appointed Arthur M. Cromarty of Lindenhurst, Chairman of the Suffolk County Board of Supervisors, to the Authority Board for a term ending January 1, 1969. At the same time, the Governor re-appointed Chairman Bixby to a term continuing to January 1, 1972, and Mr. Diebold to a term ending January 1, 1966.
February 6, 1963 Motorists traveled a record 2,586,119,222 miles on the Thruway in 1962, the Authority reported. The fatality rate was 2.67 deaths per each 100,000,000 miles traveled -- half the national rate of 5.3.
February 24, 1963 As the Authority weighed action against illegal billboards, its consulting engineers, Madigan-Hyland, Inc. of New York City, reported that the relative number of "driver-inattention" accidents per mile in Thruway areas with billboards was more than three times greater than on sections without such devices.
June 10, 1963 Authority maintenance crews removed 53 illegal billboards marring the Thruway's scenic beauty and presenting a hazard to safe driving.
June 26, 1963 The first of a million copies of  a completely revised Thruway map folder were distributed to patrons.
July 17, 1963 A Directomat installed at the Malden Service Area inaugurated a new program to provide motorists with free information about overnight accommodations and tourist attractions. The device produces printed "trip slips" at the push of a button.
November 25, 1963 With completion of the 16-mile northern end of the Taconic State Parkway, the Thruway opened its Taconic Interchange B2 on the Berkshire Section, a direct link between the two highways.
January 21, 1964 The Authority reported that 95,666,095 vehicles traveled a record 2,767,338,417 miles over the Thruway during 1963. The fatal accident record was the lowest in five years. Gross income amounted to $66,810,083, a record.
February 1, 1964 Thruway employees with 10 years of continuous service qualified for passes allowing toll-free personal use of the Thruway. Additional employees will receive the passes as they reach the 10-year mark.
March 30, 1964 The Authority repaid the State $4,000,000 of funds advanced by the State for early Thruway construction.
July 22, 1964 Maintenance crews eliminated 12 illegal billboards along the Thruway.
August 7, 1964 Because of unprecedented congestion, the Sloatsburg and Ramapo Service Areas were closed to charter buses on weekends for the rest of the summer.
September 1, 1964 A legislative act took effect naming the Thruway "The Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway," paying tribute to the former Governor's leadership in creating the superhighway. Signs welcoming motorists to the Dewey Thruway were erected at eight major entrances to the Thruway.
November 16, 1964 On three-lane sections, trucks, buses, and cars hauling trailers were barred from the extreme left lane, in an Authority move to promote safety and keep traffic flow steady.
December 18, 1964 The $7,726,283 second North Grand Island Bridge was opened.
December 23, 1964 The New Baltimore Service Area, on the southbound lanes south of Albany, was opened to northbound motorists when a new two-lane vehicular bridge over the Thruway was opened. The restaurant facilities were enlarged to handle the increased volume.
January 1, 1965 Thruway vehicle mileage for 1964 topped the three billion mark for the first time, reaching an annual total of 3,005,817,582 for 1964.
January 1, 1965 Thruway revenues for 1964 totaled a record $72,719,716 -- up 8.84 per cent from the 1963 level.
March 9, 1965 Charles R. Diebold of Buffalo, Authority Treasurer, resigned to give more time to his private business activities.
March 31, 1965 The Thruway paid the State of New York $6,000,000 of funds advanced by the State to the Authority to finance early Thruway construction. To date, the Authority has repaid the State $77,285,812.
April 12, 1965 Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller appointed Walter J. Mahoney of Buffalo to the Authority to succeed Charles R. Diebold, also of Buffalo. Mr. Mahoney was formerly Temporary President and Majority Leader of the New York State Senate.
June 21, 1965 The Warners Service Area, on the westbound lanes just west of Syracuse, was reopened after its transformation into an air conditioned, cafeteria-style restaurant.
July 7, 1965 A low bid of $258,730 was received for rehabilitation of the 30-year-old original North Grand Island Bridge.
December 17, 1965 A special Information Center, manned daily by an attendant was opened at the Malden Service Area. It is sponsored by Thruway Travel Services, Inc., which operates mechanical Directomat devices at five service areas.
January 1, 1966 Vehicles traveled 3,227,594,945 miles over the Thruway in 1965 -- marking the second year that mileage has topped three billion. Total income for the year amounted to $78,962,084 -- up 8.58% from the 1964 level.
March 8, 1966 The Authority directed all vehicles to use their simultaneous flashing lights whenever their speed drops below 40 miles an hour on the Thruway.
March 18, 1966 A 15-point program to increase safety was announced, including the addition of 48 men to State Police Troop T and the installation of substantial mileage of guide railing the center mall and aounrd fixed objects.
March 22, 1966 Trained traffic teams began safety inspections at selected interchanges, to prevent unsafe vehicles from entering the Thruway system.
May 2, 1966 The Authority prohibited the consumption of alcoholic beverages anywhere on the Thruway system.
June 16, 1966 Arthur M. Cromarty resigned as Authority Vice Chairman to accept appointment as a Justice of State Supreme Court, Tenth Judicial District.
July 26, 1966 A modern tourist information center was opened at the Sloatsburg Service Area near Suffern. It is the second to be operated by Thruway Travel Services under an Authority Contract.
August 2, 1966 The third tourist information center was opened at the Angola Service Area on the Erie Section. All three are staffed the year 'round.
September 7, 1966 State Police Troop T began experimental flights to determine the feasibility of an aerial patrol to apprehend speeders and other unsafe drivers.
December 6, 1966 The 27-man crew maintaining the New England Section won the 1966 Maintenance Award for outstanding performance.
December 10, 1966 Governor Rockefeller appointed Edwin J. Fehrenback of Bethpage to the Authority to succeed Arthur M. Cromarty of Lindenhurst. Mr. Fehrenback, Vice President of the Hempstead Bank, was designated Authority Treasurer.
January 1, 1967 A new toll schedule went into effect for the Grand Island Bridges, liberalizing commuter-book plans and increasing slightly the tolls for commercial vehicles.
January 5, 1967 The Authority reported that 119,973,313 vehicles traveled a record 3,378,500,902 miles over the Thruway during 1966. Gross income totaled $83,313,519.
February 17, 1967 The Authority announced the signing of a 30-year lease with Red Star Express Lines of Auburn for Thruway property at the Depew Interchange on which a modern trucking terminal will be constructed.
April 26, 1967 John A Tiesler, Chief Engineer of the State Division of the Budget, was appointed Executive Director to succeed Holden A. Evans Jr., who had served as the Chief Administrative officer since the Authority was created in 1950.
September 1, 1967 Qualified pilots from State Police Troop T began formal operation of an aerial Thruway patrol. Flying the Authority's $12,555 Cessna Skyhawk, the crew detects speeders and other dangerous drivers.
September 29, 1967 General Manager Warren M. Wells, a Thruway veteran, retired, and Phillip B. Lee, Director of Traffic and Services, was promoted to a new post, Deputy Executive Director.
December 5, 1967 The Authority announced that a 2.1-acre site including the former Lehigh Valley freight station in downtown Buffalo had been sold to Buffalo Evening News for $150,000.
December 31, 1967 Vice Chairman Walter J. Mahoney resigned to become a Justice of State Supreme Court, an office to which he was elected November 7.
January 4, 1968 The Authority announced that charter bus stops would be restricted between New York City and Albany on summer weekends and holidays to prevent swamping of service areas.
January 5, 1968 During 1967, 126,514,031 vehicles traveled a record 3,533,672,796 miles on the Thruway System, the Authority reported. The fatality rate dipped to 1.92 for each 100,000,000 miles traveled -- the lowest in 10 years. Gross income totaled $86,705,916.
January 16, 1968 Governor Rockefeller appointed his Secretary, Alton G. Marshall of Glenmont, to the Authority to succeed Justice Mahoney. Mr. Marshall was designed as Treasurer and Edwin J. Fehrenbach of Vice Chairman.
March 5, 1968 Arrangements were completed with a number of communities along the Thruway for opening public facilities such as schools and armories to house any Thruway patrons stranded in severe winter storms.
May 21, 1968 To promote highway safety, the Authority published a new pocket-sized Directory of Exits, listing 1,5000 New York State communities and the appropriate exits for reaching them.
July 22, 1968 Extensive rehabilitation of the western portion of the New England Thruway was begun. The work was completed November 27.
November 1, 1968 Snowmobiles were banned from the Thruway right-of-way because of their danger on a high-speed highway, except for the Grand Island Bridges, the only means of access to the island.
January 10, 1969 Thruway revenue for 1968 totaled $92,408,257 and mileage for the year was 3,728,089,268 -- both new records. The fatality rate of 2.12 deaths for each 100,000,000 miles traveled was a slight increase from 1967.
February 7, 1969 The Authority announced plans for opening, at the Newburgh Interchange by July 1, a temporary rest stop for the use of charter buses during summer weekends and holidays.
April 4, 1969 Plans were announced for construction of a new four-story Administrative Headquarters on Thruway land near Albany Interchange 23. Ground will be broken in the fall.
July 1, 1969 The new charter bus stop was opened at the Newburgh Interchange. It can handle as many as 52 charter buses, and 2,000 persons, at one time.
July 22, 1969 The Departments of Traffic and Services and of Toll collection were combined into a new Department of Operations, headed by Arnold G. Fisch, who had been Director of Traffic.
October 31, 1969 The Weedsport Section won the 1969 Maintenance Award for its outstanding work during the year.
December 23, 1969 The Authority announced that luxury buses 102 inches wide -- six inches wider than ordinary buses -- would be permitted to travel the Thruway on an experimental basis.
December 23, 1969 All seven oil companies operating service stations on the Thruway agreed to honor each other's credit cards when offered by patrons for fuel purchases.
January 1, 1970 To meet rising costs, the Authority put into effect an average 18.5 per cent increase in commercial tools, and revised annual permit rules -- charging half fare for all trips over 20 miles.
January 5, 1970 The Authority reported income of $97,613,314 for 1969 -- up 5.63 per cent from the 1968 level.
February 12, 1970 The Thruway's fatality rate for 1969 was reported as 1.64 deaths for each 100,000,000 miles of travel -- the lowest such rate in 10 years and the second-best mark since the Thruway was opened in mid-1954. Motorists traveled a record 3,901,261,885 miles on the Thruway in 1969 -  a new record.
February 16, 1970 The maximum speed limit for trucks on the New England Thruway was reduced to 50 miles an hour in an effort to reduce noise.
June 16, 1970 To relieve congestion at the Tappan Zee Bridge, the Authority announced plans to handle all commutation book sales by mail, instead of through collectors.
August 12, 1970 The Thruway, along with other agencies operating Hudson River crossings, put into effect a one-way toll collection system for bridges and tunnels. A round-trip toll is collected from eastbound vehicles, while no toll is collected from westbound traffic. The plan was adopted to speed the traffic flow and relieve congestion.
August 28, 1970 A two-million-dollar highway safety program was announced to provide Thruway patrons with additional guide-rail protection against rock cuts, bridge piers and cross-mall accidents.
October 20, 1970 A $200,000 project to equip 172 Thruway signs with "breakaway" supports was announced. The standards snap on impact if cars hit the signs.
December 23, 1970 Inertial barriers, comprising clusters of water-filled cells to soak up impact, were erected in front of westbound tollbooths at the Tappan Zee Bridge. The islands are unused, since tolls are not collected westbound.
December 31, 1970 With a check for $1,167,457.92 presented to State Budge Director Hurd, the Authority paid in full its debt to the State of New York. The debt, which had totaled $80,453,270.73, stemmed from advanced made by the State to finance Thruway construction before the Authority sold its bonds.