Thruway History

The New York State Thruway: 1971-1980

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

January 7, 1971 Annual Thruway mileage exceeded four billion for the first time, vehicles traveling 4,028,455,119 miles in 1970. The fatality rate was 2.36 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
January 15, 1971 An 18 percent increase in commercial tons and a revision in annual permit provisions helped boost the Authority's gross income for 1970 to a record $108,672,162 a gain of 11.3 per cent from the 1969 level.
February 25, 1971 A new $2,300,000 interchange, financed with state funds, was opened at Pembroke, milepost 402. It was designated 48A.
March 26, 1971 A 3 1/2-year test of triple tandem trailers was discontinued after operators reported finding no economic benefits from them.
May 20, 1971 The Authority began accepting Canadian money at par, since it had risen to equal United States currency. A 10 per cent discount was imposed in August 1962 and lowered to 5 per cent in June 1970.
September 1, 1971 Re-bidding of all gasoline station contracts was postponed because of the President's wage-price freeze. The seven oil companies operating the 31 gas stations agreed to continue for a year under the existing terms.
October 29, 1971 Coxsackie Interchange 21B was opened at Milepost 124.5. The $2,400,000 interchange was financed with State funds.
November 19, 1971 Tollbooths on the northbound lanes at the Tappan Zee Bridge, unused since a one-way toll collection was adopted August 12, 1970, were removed by Thruway crews.
January 7, 1972 Vehicles traveled 4,139,436,704 miles over the Thruway in 1971 -- the second straight year that mileage had topped the four billion mark. The fatality rate of 1.69 deaths for each 100 million miles of travel was the third lowest in 17 1/2 years of Thruway operation.
January 10, 1972 The Authority moved into its first permanent headquarters, a four-story $5,500,000 structure overlooking the Thruway near Albany Interchange 23.
January 17, 1972 Gross revenue of $111,288,505 was reported for 1971, a 2.41 per cent increase from the 1970 level.
April 19, 1972 Governor Rockefeller announced plans to construct a new Thruway interchange without toll facilities at Airmont Road in Suffern County with Authority and State funds. The program also called for removal of toll facilities at the Suffern interchange and construction of a new cross-Thruway barrier at Harriman to serve as the southern terminus of the controlled system.
July 17, 1972 Night crews begain resurfacing an 11-mile stretch of highway spanning all five Syracuse interchanges. This minimized traffic interference on the heavily traveled stretch.
October 2, 1972. Eden-Angola Interchange 57A, built at State expense at the direction of the Legislature, was opened at Milepost 444.9 between Hamburg and Silver Creek on the Erie Section.
October 20, 1972 The Authority accepted bids from oil companies for five-year contracts to operate 31 gas stations on the Thruway. The new contracts called for wider acceptance of credit cards and elimination of no-fuel service calls.
December 1, 1972 Alton G. Marshall of New York City retired as Authority Treasurer and was succeeded by Charles T. Lanigan of Briarcliff Manor.
December 13, 1972 Thruway maintenance vehicles were being converted to a yellow color, as they are replaced, because of their improved visibility.
January 15, 1973 An all-time record of 4,241,323,037 miles was traveled on the Thruway in 1972 with a fatality rate of 2.15 deaths for each 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
February 16, 1973 Gross income of the Thruway totaled $114,542,582 for 1972 up 2.92 per cent from the 1971 level.
March 12, 1973 Major repairs were begun on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Day crews were expanded and night work initiated to lessen traffic tie-ups on the heavily traveled span.
April 3, 1973 All trucks equipped with simultaneous flashing lights were ordered to use them whenever speed drops to 40 miles an hour or less.
May 25, 1973 Collamer Interchange 34A, built by the State at Milepost 276.6 in Syracuse, opened.
June 8, 1973 Chairman Bixby honored five Thruway employees for acts of heroism. One went 400 feet down a sheer cliff near Catskill to help a couple whose car had plunged over. The other four braved flaming gasoline to pull two med from a burning car near West Nyack.
November 11, 1973 At the request of President Nixon and Governor Rockefeller, the Thruway Authority reduced the speed limit from 65 MPH to 50 MPH to conserve gasoline.
November 26, 1973 Complying with a request from President Nixon: the Thruway Authority announced that gasoline stations along the superhighway would not sell gasoline between 9 p.m. Saturdays and 12 midnight sundays.
November 30, 1973 The Thruway Authority discontinued its policy of giving motorists two gallons of gasoline free of charge when their vehicles ran out of fuel.
December 13, 1973 Little Falls Interchange 29A, built by the State, opened and the Authority assumed responsibility for operation and maintenance.
January 1, 1974 Vehicles traveled a record 4,321,710,961 miles on the Thruway in 1973 - the fourth straight year that mileage topped the four billion mark. The fatality rate was 1.99 deaths per 100 million miles of travel compared with 2.15 in 1972. Gross revenues reached a record $119,285,697, up 4.14 per cent from 1972.
January 10, 1974 The speed limit was decreased to 55 MPH by action of the Congress, which mandated a national speed limit of 55.
February 11, 1974 The voluntary odd/even system of gasoline sales was imposed on the Thruway.
February 23, 1974 Mandatory odd/even was imposed.
March 3, 1974 With the opening by Governor Wilson of the Airmont Rd. Interchange 14B, a major changeover in toll collection facilities went into effect in Orange and Rockland Counties. The Spring Valley toll barrier was converted from the ticket to cash toll collection and tollbooths were eliminated at the Suffern Interchange. The Harriman Interchange was connected to a cash barrier, and a new barrier, Woodbury, was opened on the mainline at Harriman to issue toll tickets northbound and collect tolls southbound.
March 10, 1974 The Thruway Authority resumed the sale of gasoline on Sundays from noon until 9 p.m. No gasoline had been sold on weekends since December 23. Exemption from odd/even 47 miles after receiving a toll ticket.
March 20, 1974 Around-the-clock sale of gasoline on Sunday resumed after President Nixom announced that he was withdrawing a request that gasoline not be sold Sundays.
April 10, 1974 Ramapo Gasoline station, closed since February 8, 1974 because of lack of fuel, reopened.
April 18, 1974 Guilderland Gasoline Station, also closed since February 8, 1974 because of lack of fuel, reopened.
May 1, 1974 Governor Wilson announced the end of the mandatory odd/even system of gasoline sales. The one-half tank requirement remained in effect.
December 31, 1974 Chairman R. Burdell Bixby, who was appointed a member of the Authority Board when the agency was created by the Legislature in 1950, retired. He had been Chairman of the Thruway Authority since March 25, 1960.
January 15, 1975 A near record low traffic death rate of 1.01 per million miles traveled was established, compared with 1.99 in 1973 and 0.92 in 1958. There were 41 deaths in 1974, compared to 86 in 1973.
February 1, 1975 Passenger car tolls in 1974 were down 4,815,256, or 7.15% and commercial revenue was off 830,661, or 2.36%. Total vehicle miles traveled were 4,062,522,369, down 259,361,512 or 6%. The energy crisis was blamed for the declines in revenue and vehicle miles. Gross revenue for 1974 was $117,202,283.
April 19, 1975 The Senate confirmed Gerald Cummins of Plandome, New York, as Chairman of the Thruway Authority. Governor Carey swore in the new Chairman to a nine-year term later that day.
May 20, 1975 Tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge were increased to $1.50 per round trip, up from $1.00, following a public hearing. Commutation book charges remained the same.
June 24, 1975 Passenger car tools were increased from 1.7 to an average of 1.9 cents per mile and a new toll classification for five axle tractor trailers at 6.5 cents per mile (up from 5.8 cents) was put into effect. It was the first passeneger car toll increase since 1959. Public hearings across the state preceded the increases.
June 30, 1975 John A. Tiesler, Executive Director and Chief Administrative Officer, since April 27, 1967, retired.
July 1, 1975 Phillip B. Lee, Deputy Executive Director since 1967, because Executive Director. F. William Davidson, Director of Operations and former Director of Information and Commercial Affairs, became Deputy Executive Director.
July 1, 1975 Passenger car tolls at most barriers were increased five cents. The Yonkers and New Rochelle barriers were raised to 30 cents, Harriman to 35 cents, Buffalo City Line and Black Rock to 20 cents. Commercial tolls also went up.
July 1, 1975 Installation of 3,060 feet of concrete median barrier was completed on the eastern end of the Tappan Zee Bridge. A total of 192 miles of Thruway is protected by guide rail, and another 86 miles have natural features that prevent crossover accidents.
November 12, 1975 The winner of the best section competition was the Catskill Maintenance Section.
January 1, 1976 Gross revenue for 1975 was $123,198,930, an increase of 5.12 per cent. Toll revenue was $106,134,919, up 9.59 per cent, mainly because of the general toll increase in mid-year. Total vehicle miles traveled were 4,119,007,327, still lower than 1971, 1972 and 1973.
January 1, 1976 Gladieux Food Services, Inc., Toldeo, Ohio, began operation of the 27 restaurants between New York and Buffalo under a new five-year contract that was won by a high competitive bid of 23.111 per cent.
January 1, 1976 The 1975 fatality rate was 1.41 deaths for each 100 million vehicle miles traveled, the second best rate since 1960 when the full 559 mile Thruway System began operations.
June 9, 1976 A horse-drawn train of covered wagons crossed the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee Bridge en route to Valley Forge, Pa., for the bicentennial celebration.
June 28, 1976 Information centers at Sloatsburg and Angola opened under the auspices of private operators.
June 29, 1976 The Ardsley Gasoline Station, Yonkers, closed since 1974 because of the energy crisis, reopened, bringing to 30 the number of gasoline stations in operation.
October 26, 1976 Weedsport Maintenance won the Best Section award for the sixth time.
November 1, 1976 The number of companies with permits to operate tandem trailers exceeded 100 for the first time since the operation began in 1959. More and more truckers look to tandems for fuel economy and labor savings.
January 1, 1977 Total revenue in 1976 was $132,821,851, up 7.81 percent. Passenger car tolls were $78,769,125, up 7.91 percent, anc commercial tolls were $36,898,030, up 11.34 percent. The tolls continue to reflect the impact of the 1975 toll increase and a slowly improving economy.
February 1, 1977 Another outstanding year for safety was recorded for 1976. There were 1.17 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled; a total of 49 deaths in 38 accidents. Vehicle miles totaled 4,182,892,022.
April 7, 1977 Five information centers, a record number, were in operation at Sloatsburg, Malden, Scottsville, Clarence and Angola.
May 1, 1977 Twenty contracts totaling $10.6 million were scheduled for roadway and bridge rehabilitation during the construction season.
June 30, 1977 The changeover to a new, higher frequency (450 mHz) communications was completed, meeting an FCC deadline. The system consists of 22 base repeater stations, 100 control stations, 900 mobile units and telephone control equipment.
August 2, 1977 Deputy Executive Direction F. William Davidson retired after 25 years with the Thruway Authority. Mr. Davidson became Deputy Executive Director July 1, 1975.
September 6, 1977 James A. Marin, Deputy Director of Operations, was appointed Deputy Executive Director. Mr. Martin joined the Authority in 1975.
November 1, 1977 Manchester Maintenance Section won the best section award.
January 1, 1978 New three-year contracts for the operation of 28 of the 31 gasoline stations went into effect. The brand names are Amoco, which exercised an option to renew its contract for three stations, and Arco, Chevron, Exxon, Mobil and Sunoco.
January 15, 1978 Vehicle miles totaled 4,266,178,685 in 1977, up 81 million. Revenue totaled $136,585,590, up 2.83 percent. Passenger car tolls were $79,608,632, up 1.07 percent and commercial tolls were $39,644,765, up 7.44 percent in 1977.
February 1, 1978 Edwin J. Fehrenbach, Vice Chairman of the Authority Board, retired. Mr. Fehrenbach served as Chairman of the Authority for varying periods in 1970, 1972 and 1974. Former Gov. Rockefeller appointed him to the Board on Dec. 10, 1966. Mr. Fehrenbach is Vice President of Hempstead Bank, Hempstead, L. I.
February 1, 1978 The fatality rate of 1.17 deaths per 100 million miles traveled was the same as 1976 -- making the two years the second lowest since the full Thruway System began operation.
May 27, 1978 Six tourist information centers, the largest number ever on the Thruway, were opened Memorial Day weekend. They are at the Sloatsburg, Malden, New Baltimore, Scottsville, Clarence and Angola Service Areas. New Baltimore is the latest addition.
June 30, 1978 Governor Carey appointed Mrs. Louise M. Sunshine of New York City to the Authority Board for a term ending Jan. 1, 1987. Mrs. Sunshine is a real estate executive.
October 20, 1978 Manchester Maintenance Section won the best section award for the second consecutive year.
January 1, 1979 Vehicle miles totaled 4,452,995,577 in 1978. Revenue totaled $144,289,641, up 7.88 percent over 1977. Passenger car tolls were $82,119,863, and commercial tolls were $43,437,739.
February 6, 1979 The 1978 fatality rate was 0.94 per 100 million vehicle miles. It was the lowest rate in 20 years.
June 24, 1979 The Authority marked its 25th anniversary of operations. The first toll section, between Rochester and Utica, opened June 24, 1954.
October 31, 1979 For the third consecutive year, Manchester Maintenance Section won the best section award.