Thruway History

The New York State Thruway: 1991-2000


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

January 1, 1991 Vehicle miles total 6,270,721,012 in 1990. Revenues totaled $321,160,649, up 0.64 percent from 1989. Fatality rate for 1990 was 0.91 per 100 million miles traveled. Accident rate of 94.33 per 100 million miles traveled was lowest in Thruway history.
April 1, 1991 Thruway Authority assumed operation of 11-mile Cross Westchester Expressway (I-287), expanding Thruway system to 570 miles. Free emergency roadside service provided during peak commuter hours by Texaco Samaritan.
April 3, 1991 For the first time, reduced-cost commuter books made available for Grand Island residents who use pickups or vans for personal use.
April 8, 1991 Authority announced new policy to place barriers in all medians 54 feet wide or narrower (old policy - medians' less than 44 feet wide). The policy will be phased in with construction projects.
April 17, 1991 Passenger vehicle toll at Spring Valley barrier increased a nickel to 40 cents (part of phased-in increase announced in April 1988)
May 21, 1991 Installation of pilot Highway Advisory Radio System in the Capital District broadcasting construction reports, traffic advisories, tourist information, etc., 24 hours a day.
June 15, 1991 Dunkin' Donuts addition at Scottsville travel plaza opened (first of 16 new restaurant complexes under Marriott agreement). Existing Burger King remained.
July 18, 1991 Announced agreement in principle with McDonald's Corp. for 12 new restaurant complexes (including new gateway center on the Berkshire and Erie Sections).
August 1, 1991 Chittenango restaurant travel plaza opened; first totally new building under Marriott agreement.
September 30, 1991 Sbarro's opened at Seneca Travel Plaza, an addition to the existing Burger King.
September 30, 1991 Thruway Transition Advisory Council sent final report to Governor. Report recommended maintaining tolls and continuing Thruway Authority as operating body. (Final meeting September 23).
October 10, 1991 Nathan's opened at the Clarence Travel Plaza, an addition to the existing Burger King.
October 21, 1991 Assumed operation and maintenance responsibilities for 71-mile portion of Interstate 84 within New York State (final agreement with state Department of Transportation pending). State Police Troop T started patrolling October 1. Brought total Thruway miles to 641.
October 30, 1991 Toll-free number 1-800-THRUWAY put into operation for Thruway road conditions (replacing the 1-800-THE-ROAD).
November 21, 1991 Batavia Maintenance Section won best section award for fourth time in past five years.
January 1, 1992 Fatality rate for 1991 was 0.62 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, the lowest in Thruway history. Vehicle miles totaled 6,743,514,037 in 1991, including Cross Westchester Expressway and I-84. Revenues totaled $308,648,641, down 3.9 percent from 1990.
February 3, 1992 Pattersonville Travel Plaza opened. All-new 15,000 square foot building is largest to date.
February 15, 1992 Clifton Springs Travel Plaza opened. (Marriott).
March 16, 1992 Pembroke Travel Plaza opened (Marriott).
April 23, 1992 Ardsley Travel Plaza opened (Marriott).
May 12, 1992 Highway Advisory Radio on air in Tappan Zee corridor.
August 4, 1992 Gov. Mario Cuomo signed "Thruway 2000" legislation, extending Thruway Authority's role. Transferred the 523-mile New York State Canal System to the Authority, and gave Authority major role in key transportation and economic development projects in the Thruway corridor.
September 2, 1992 New interchange opened - William Street interchange 52A, town of Cheektowaga.
September 3, 1992 Sloatsburg Travel Plaza, the largest in the country, opened a 2-story, 33,500 square foot facility with two-level parking garage that was constructed by Marriott.
November 23, 1992 Westfield Maintenance Section won best highway section award.
December 1, 1992 New Baltimore Travel Plaza opened (Marriott).
December 28, 1992 Plattekill Travel Plaza opened (Marriott).
December 29, 1992 Exact fare lanes in use on Grand Island bridges.
January 1, 1993 Thruway recorded lowest fatality rate in 38-year history for 1992 (0.53 deaths per 100 million miles traveled). Also, record low accident rate (90.62 per 100 million miles traveled). Vehicle miles totaled 7,612,076,692. Revenues totaled $307,430,560, down 0.39 percent from 1991.
February 1, 1993 Movable barrier system put into use on Tappan Zee Bridge, permitting four southbound and three northbound lanes weekday mornings, reverse in the afternoon.
March 3, 1993 Work stated on replacement of Eastchester Creek Bridge, one of the few remaining drawbridges on an interstate highway. Two-year project will replace it with stationary bridge.
March 29, 1993 Iroquois Travel Plaza opened (Marriott).
April 5, 1993 A fifth division, Mid-Hudson, created with split of New York Division. Mid-Hudson Division includes I-84 and the Thruway mainline between Suffern and New Paltz.
April 19, 1993 Junius Ponds Travel Plaza opened (Marriott).
May 26, 1993 Guilderland Travel Plaza opened, the first of 10 to be totally rebuilt by Thruway Authority and McDonald's Corporation.
June 7, 1993 Oneida Travel Plaza opened (Marriott).
June 30, 1993 Ulster Travel Plaza opened (Marriott).
July 6, 1993 Vice Chair Genevieve M. Starosciak retired from Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation boards.
July 7, 1993 Two new members joined Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation boards: Nancy E. Carey and William C. Warren III.
July 19, 1993 Highway Advisory Radio on the air in Buffalo area.
July 29, 1993 Modena Travel Plaza opened (McDonald's).
August 2, 1993 Thruway E-ZPass, electronic toll collection, introduced at Spring Valley toll plaza.
August 30, 1993 Thruway E-ZPass, electronic toll collection, started on Tappan Zee Bridge.
August 31, 1993 Malden Travel Plaza opened (McDonald's).
September 24, 1993 Warners Travel Plaza opened (McDonald's).
September 30, 1993 Port Byron Travel Plaza opened (McDonald's)
October 18, 1993 Ontario Travel Plaza opened (McDonald's)
October 26, 1993 Thruway E-ZPass, electronic toll collection, introduced at Grand Island Bridges.
November 11, 1993 Westfield Maintenance Section won best highway section award for second straight year.
January 1, 1994 Thruway recorded its lowest fatality rate in 39-year history in 1993 (0.45 deaths per 100 million miles traveled). Vehicle miles totaled 7,843,461,654. Revenues totaled $315, 351,954, up 2.58 percent from 1992.
February 14, 1994 E-ZPass electronic toll collection introduced at fourth location, Yonkers toll plaza.
May 2, 1994 With the opening of the 1994 season, user fees (authorized by a 1991 constitutional amendment) are being charged on the New York State Canal System for passage through locks (first time since 1882).
May 27, 1994 State Police Troop T started patrolling Canal System with marine patrol.
June 2, 1994 DeWitt Travel Plaza opened (McDonald's).
June 3, 1994 Mohawk Travel Plaza opened (McDonald's).
June 6, 1994 E-ZPass electronic toll collection introduced at Harriman toll plaza (fifth location).
July 1, 1994 Schuyler Travel Plaza opened (McDonald's). All 27 travel plazas open for first time since October 1990; one still to be replaced (Ramapo).
July 6, 1994 Thruway Authority, State Police and IBM announce pilot program; first toll road system in U.S. to arm state police with computer-to-computer links (IBM ThinkPad laptop computers in 58 patrol cars).
July 27, 1994 Tractor trailer tanker loaded with propane gas struck overpass abutment on Cross Westchester Expressway, resulting in fire and explosion that knocked out center pier and damaged several homes. Driver killed. All six lanes reopened in less than 24 hours.
August 11-14, 1994 Woodstock '94 concert drew 350,000 people to Saugerties but Thruway mainline traffic moved smoothly; traffic restricted at Saugerties, Catskill and Coxsackie interchanges.
August 15, 1994 Highway Advisory Radio on the air in Syracuse.
August 31, 1994 Officials dedicated one of the first sections of Canalway Trail (12 miles between Rome and Canastota) developed by the Thruway Authority/Canal Corporation. When completed, trail will span the 523-mile Canal System.
September 7, 1994 STAR (Shoulder Treatment for Accident Reduction) program termed a success, with 72 percent decline in drift-off-road accidents where shoulder grooves were installed. Thruway installed 106 miles of test grooves between 1990 and 1993; another 620 miles to be treated by end of 1994 (out of 2,500 miles of shoulder).
November 3, 1994 Amsterdam Maintenance Section won best highway section award.
January 9, 1995 An "Alternate F" designed selected for a new bridge spanning the Mohawk River connecting local routes to Interchange 26 in Rotterdam.
January 21, 1995 A satellite E-ZPass Service Center on Grand Island opened.
February 6, 1995 Ernest J. Scarozza of Hamburg named Construction Person of the Year.
April 17, 1995 Motorists will be able to start using EZPass, an electronic toll collection system, on the Thruway's mainline from Interchange 23 (Albany) to Interchange 27 (Amsterdam).
May 1, 1995 New York State Canal System began its 170th continuous year of navigation.
May 5, 1995 Permit that allows commuters to travel at a reduced cost is offered to drivers of pickup trucks for the first time.
May 22, 1995 The 1901 tug "Urger" welcomes visitors aboard to learn how New York's historic canal system helped build the Empire State.
July 1, 1995 John Shafer, Executive Director, retires.
July 1, 1995 Stephen D. Morgan appointed Executive Director.
July 11, 1995 The Canal Recreationway Commission unveils the Canal Recreationway Plan designed to transform the New York State Canal System into a premier tourist destination.
August 1, 1995 Speed limit increased from 55 mph to 65 mph on some sections from Woodbury Toll Barrier to Pennsylvania Line.
August 17, 1995 Ruben Agosto named 1994 Toll Collector of the Year.
September 21, 1995 New toll tickets customized for the vehicle being driven is used on the Thruway's Erie Section.
September 27, 1995 A Master Plan was adopted for the creation of a world-class tourist destination along the 523-mile New York State Canal System.
October 10, 1995 Entered into an historic/public partnership to develop, integrate and support a fiber optic network for high-speed digital voice, data and video communications along the 641-mile Thruway systems right of way.
November 10, 1995 Amsterdam Maintenance Section won best highway section award for the second year in a row.
November 27, 1995 E-ZPass electronic toll collection introduced at New Rochelle Toll Barrier located on the New England Thruway.
December 18, 1995 E-ZPass electronic toll collection introduced at Black Rock Toll Barrier located on the Niagara Thruway.
December 31, 1995 Peter Tufo, Chairmain, resigns.
January 8, 1996 New York motorists using E-ZPass, electronic toll collection system, are the first in the nation able to pay tolls at more than one toll agency using the same electronic toll tag.
January 23, 1996 Commuters with out-of-state vehicle registrations can purchase the New York State Thruway's annual permit for the first time.
January 30, 1996 Howard E. Steinberg of Long Island, confirmed as Chairman by the state Senate.
February 6, 1996 E-ZPass electronic toll collection introduced at City Line Toll Barrier on the Niagara Thruway.
February 16, 1996 Recorded the second lowest fatality rate in its 42-year history.
June 19, 1996 E-ZPass electronic toll collection fully operational along a 175-mile stretch from New York City to Amsterdam.
June 19, 1996 E-ZPass electronic toll collection introduced on the Berkshire Section of the Thruway.
July 15, 1996 Speed limit increased from 55 mph to 65 mph in Albany, Syracuse and some sections of Buffalo.
August 20, 1996 The "Canal Revitalization Program" launched to preserve and develop New York's treasured canal system.
October 24, 1996 Authority Board approves the lowest operating budget in three years at $191,700,000.
December 4, 1996 Thruway E-ZPass, electronic toll collection, introduced from Albany to Buffalo.
January 27, 1997 Authority Chairman Howard Steinberg announced a $296 million construction program for 1997, one of the largest in Thruway history. Tappan Zee Corridor project total of $491 millioin over six years.
February 6, 1997 E-ZPass electronic toll collection began to be offered to commercial vehicles.
February 18, 1997 Thruway experienced its safest year ever in 1996 even with a record number of vehicles traveling the superhighway.
February 28, 1997 Thruway Authority successfully sold approximately $259 millioin of its Highway and Bridge Trust Fund Bond Series 1997A as part of a continuing program authorized by the Legislature to assist the State in financing transportation needs.
April 3, 1997 Groundbreaking in Albany for construction of a cross-state fiber optic communications network that will run along the Thruway.
April 9, 1997 POW/MIA flags to fly statewide along Thruway.
April 11, 1997 As part of the Canal Revitalization Program, training was provided for young people in the Albany Service Corps to build docks for the Waterford Harbor.
April 15, 1997 Expansion of the logo sign program which guides motorists to major tourist attractions.
April 24, 1997 New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services distributed posters and information on endangered and missing children at Thruway toll barriers and travel plazas.
April 25, 1997 Thruway has a site on the World Wide Web -- www.thruway.state.ny.us.
May 1, 1997 New York State Canal System started its 172nd continuous year of navigation.
May 7, 1997 Thruway sells $350 million in bonds to help finance the Authority six-year $1.55 billion Capital plan.
May 8, 1997 New York State Thruway Authority issued its 250,000 E-ZPass tag.
May 9, 1997 New York State Canal Corporation has a site on the World Wide Web -- www.canals.state.ny.us.
May 16, 1997 Dedication of the Little Falls Park project.
May 28, 1997 Groundbreaking for a new bridge over the Mohawk River connecting Interchange 26 with Route 5 in Glenville.
May 30, 1997 As part of a Canal community committed to the revitalization of the historic New York State Canal System, the Canajoharie Waterfront Pavilion was dedicated.
June 4, 1997 Under the Municipal Canal Development Program, an additional $450,000 was made available to Canal communities.
June 10, 1997 Tugboat "Urger" welcomes visitors aboard to learn how New York State's historic Canal System helped make New York the Empire State.
June 16, 1997 Area garden centers and clubs beautify New York State Thruway through an Adopt-an-Interchange Program.
June 19, 1997 New York State was selected as one of the first states to receive approval from the federal Department of Transporation to establish a new and innovative program to finance transportation projects called a State Infrastructure Bank (SIB).
June 20, 1997 Crown Blue Line (CBL), a major operator of self-skippered boats, is the newest business on the New York State Canal System.
July 3, 1997 Crown Blue Line customer service center in Frankfort is opened.
July 15, 1997 Tolls for passenger vehicles at the Spring Valley Toll Barrier were eliminated.
July 25, 1997 Deputy Executive Director Leonard J. DePrima named Construction Industry Man of the Year by the Westchester/Putnam Chapter of the American Heart Association.
August 26, 1997 Bicycle patrols were introduced as the newest form of policing on the Canalway Trail.
September 12, 1997 Six men and six women cyclists from different parts of the State set out from Long Point Park in Tonawanda for a 10-day, 350 mile trip across New York State to celebrate the Erie Canal and Canalway Trail.
September 14, 1997 A nine-mile trail extension of the Canalway Trail system in Palmyra is opened.
September 15, 1997 Expansion of a traffic management program within the Tappan Zee Corridor greatly enhanced the Thruway's ability to identify and respond quickly to traffic tie-ups.
September 18, 1997 A marker that stood on the New York State Thruway for nearly forty-years in honor of those who served in the Armed Forces was moved to the Guilderland Travel Plaza.
September 23, 1997 A 32-member "Toll Team" responsible for staffing the Westmoreland, Verona and Canastota Interchanges were honored as "Top Toll Team of the Year"
September 28, 1997 For the first time, hundreds of cyclists crossed the Tappan Zee Bridge during the Great TZ Bike Event. Proceeds from the event went to MADD.
October 1, 1997 D. Andrew Edwards named Director of Operations for the New York State Thruway Authority.
October 9, 1997 An expedited action plan was developed for reopening the section of the Thruway in the City of Yonkers that was closed as a result of a huge gasoline truck fire underneath the Thruway overpass that runs about Central Park Avenue (Rt. 100).
October 20, 1997 Temporary bridges on the New York State Thruway over Central Park Avenue in Yonkers were opened resuming traffic that was disrupted by the October 9 gasoline truck fire.
October 20, 1997 Through a Municipal Canal Development Program, nine communities were awarded grants.
November 13, 1997 Amsterdam Maintenance Section was named "Best Section" along the Thruway for the fourth consecutive year.
November 17, 1997 A traveling museum featuring the New York State Thruway and Canal history and unique artifacts along with an interactive computer unit offering expanded historical information was unveiled.
February 10, 1998 1997 was the safest year ever on the New York State Thruway due to a major enforcement and education program focusing on the benefits of buckling up and the dangers of drinking and driving.
February 25, 1998 Opening of the new bridges on the New York State Thruway over Central Park Avenue in Yonkers.
March 3, 1998 As part of a continuing program authorized by the Legislature to assist the State in financing transportation, the Authority successfully sold approximately $239 million of its Highway and Bridge Trust Fund Bonds.
March 16, 1998 Motorists have an added attraction at selected travel plazas as the New York State Thruway Authority begins its "Drive New York's Main Street" campaign.
April 14, 1998 Completion of a new fiber optic communications network along the Thruway from Yonkers to Ripley.
April 22, 1998 New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Department of Transporation open a Park and Ride lot at New Paltz (Interchange 18)
April 28, 1998 New York State Canal System started its 173rd continuous year of navigation.
May 5, 1998 The tug "Urger" will travel across the State welcoming school children and other visitors aboard to learn about the significant role the Canals played in transforming New York into the Empire State.
May 18, 1998 Kick-off of a new statewide campaign to educate the public on the importance of seat belt safety and further improve its seat belt compliance rate.
May 26, 1998 Official start of marine and trail patrols on the New York State Canal System.
May 28, 1998 Groundbreaking of a 10-mile recreational Canalway Trail segment from Albion to Medina in Orleans County, connecting 80-miles of existing trail, providing 90-miles of continuous trail from Lockport to Palmyra.
June 5, 1998 New York State Canal Corporation partnered with New York State Corps Collaboration volunteers to build trail segment in Little Falls.
June 8, 1998 For the first time in the forty-four year history of the Thruway, the toll ticket was updated to be printed on demand and customized for the vehicle to which it was issued.
June 10, 1998 Kick-off of the second annual New York State Canal Cruise and Trail Trek.
July 16, 1998 Dedication of the new Seneca Falls Harbor, which was dedicated in honor of the 150th anniversary of the first Women's Rights Convention.
October 16, 1998 The second annual Great TZB Bike Tour to help benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society - Southern New York Chapter.
October 21, 1998 Governor Pataki announced state funding to allow design work to begin on a new waterfront park in Whitehall on Champlain Canal.
October 21, 1998 Governor Pataki announced state funding to allow design work to begin on a new waterfront park at the Little Falls Harbor on the Erie Canal.
October 26, 1998 Thruway honored by AAA Automobile Club of New York with an Outstanding Achievement for Traffic Safety Award.
October 26, 1998 Thruway achieved an approximate 5% increase in seat belt use among Thruway drivers due to a five-month campaign to educate the traveling public on the importance of buckling up.
November 3, 1998 Weedsport Maintenance Section won "Best Section" along Thruway.
March 1, 1999 Amateur and professional photographers were sought to conduct its first statewide Canal Photo contest.
March 19, 1999 New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Motor Truck Association partnered to produce a safety video designed for commercial operators that use the Thruway and was made available to these operators free of charge.
April 12, 1999 Four New York State Agencies responsible for E-ZPass were presented with the 1998 Excellence in Highway Design Award from the Federal Highway Administration.
April 22, 1999 Toll Collector Howard Thompson Jr., was honored by Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings and area radio station WGNA for his 29 years of devoted service to Thruway customers.
April 28, 1999 New York State Canal System started its 174th continuous year of navigation.
April 29, 1999 Chairman Howard Steinburg resigns Thruway position to accept appointment at LIPA.
Louis Tomson nominated as Thruway Authority Chairman.
May 5, 1999 Governor Pataki announced a new proposal to dramatically improve the connection between I-84 and I-87 in the Town of Newburgh to provide critical Interstate to Interstate connection that has been missing for more than 30 years.
June 9, 1999 Pattersonville Travel Plaza was the highest rated of approximately 200 travel and entertainment venues operated by Host Marriott Service Corporation throughout the nation.
June 30, 1999 John R. Riedman of Rochester joins the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation Board.
July 8, 1999 Third annual Canal Cruise and Trail Trek begins.
July 16, 1999 The I-287 Task Force was formed to consider a broad range of possible long-term, environmentally sensitive solutions that have the potential to address corridor congestion and the possible replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge, which would include various rail alternatives.
July 26, 1999 New York State was selected to host the World Canals Conference in September 2000.
September 20, 1999 Groundbreaking for the Buffalo Inner Harbor project to revitalize and transform the city's waterfront into a 21st Century destination.
October 3, 1999 Third annual Great TZ Bike Tour. Second year to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society -- Southern New York Chapter.
October 30, 1999 Project Labor Agreements were incorporated into contracts awarded for the reconstruction of the Cross Westchester Expressway by New York State Department of Transportation and New York State Thruway Authority for their portions of the project.
November 5, 1999 Amsterdam Maintenance Section was named "Section of the Year" for 1999
January 19, 2000 Real-time traffic images taken by closed-circuit television cameras on the Tappan Zee Bridge allowing motorists to view live traffic conditions made available on Thruway web site.
February 10, 2000 Leonard DePrima retires as Deputy Executive Director after 21 years of service.
John Brizzell is named new Deputy Executive Director and Chief Engineer.
March 3, 2000 Registering the lowest fatality rate in its history, 1999 was the safest year ever for the 641-mile Thruway
April 5, 2000 A convenient new web site which includes an electronic toll and distance calculator and other convenient tools to make Thruway trips easier and more enjoyable for its customers was unveiled.
April 7, 2000 Thruway donates approximately 20 computer systems to capital region school districts to further aid education in New York State.
May 1, 2000 New York State Canal System opened for its 175th consecutive navigation season.
May 15, 2000 Tolls were reduced for motorcycles towing a single axle trailer.
May 24, 2000 Fuel prices at Thruway travel plazas were reduced by an average of 5 cents per gallon during summer months saving motorists on fuel costs.
June 9, 2000 An exciting new initiative to expand bicycle tours along the entire Canalway Trail and to bring new patrons to local inns along the way with a new Inn to Inn Touring Guide was unveiled.
July 7, 2000 Fourth annual Canal Cruise and Trail Trek kicked off in Whitehall.
August 10, 2000 Opening of a new State Police Troop T satellite station in Waterford to help enforce safety regulations and provide aid for people who use the Champlain Canal and Canalway Trail.
August 17, 2000 Completion of Canalway Trail segment in Canajoharie that connected to a popular trail segment between Canajoharie and Fort Plain.
August 25, 2000 Speed limit on a five and one-half mile section of the Berkshire Spur between it's Interchange with I-87 and the Interchange with I90 was increased to 65 mph.
September 13, 2000 Unveiling of a new Canal Business web site designed to encourage public/private partnership and foster economic growth all along the Canal Corridor -- www.nyscanalbusiness.com
September 14, 2000 Start of a new toll receipt coupon program that offered travelers valuable discounts at stores and businesses across New York State.
September 19, 2000 The 5 cents per gallon reduction in fuel prices at all Thruway travel plazas was extended until January 1, 2001
October 2, 2000 New York E-ZPass customers can use their E-ZPass while traveling on the New Jersey Turnpike.
October 15, 2000 Fourth Annual Great TZ Bike Tour. Third year to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society - Southern New York Chapter.
October 13, 2000 An Adopt-a-Trail pilot project was launched within the Village of Fairport.
November 7, 2000 Verona Maintenance Section awarded "Best Highway Maintenance Section" for year 2000
November 16, 2000 Opening of a new six-mile Canalway Trail segment in Oriskany.
December 27, 2000 Tappan Zee Bridge webcams will now broadcast images of the Corridor's traffic conditions 24-hours a day, seven-days a week on the Internet.