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May 26, 2008 - 3:00pm

Stating a preference for Route 5 over the Thruway

posted by Howard B. Owens in bill kauffman, thruway, route 5.

Driving to and from Batavia today I thought of what a habit it has become for me to avoid the Thruway if at all possible.

And I thought of Bill Kauffman again and his essay "Back to Batavia."

The curmudgeons carped and the mossbacks muttered, and the thruway was built. Its first casualty was Route 5, Batavia's Main Street, for years a bustling thoroughfare. Travelers ate at diners along Route 5, and slept in hotels, and shopped at stores—until progress came, and the farms were paved, and Route 5 died. Across Upstate, countless locally owned and owner-operated businesses were bankrupted. Drivers stuck to the thruway and ate at the Howard Johnson's monopoly.

In nearly two years of Western New York residence, I've found myself avoiding the Thruway more often than not.

I dislike the Thruway because:

  • The smaller freeways and two-lane roads are often much more interesting, if not prettier drives and they do take you past more locally owned businesses, which generally make for more interesting stops than chains or anything you find at "service exits."  Similar thoughts and advice can be found on RocWiki.
  • The toll isn't expensive, but why pay a toll if you don't have to? Besides, regular Thruway usage can add up.
  • The alternative routes almost never take more time to drive.
  • State Troopers.  I have nothing against law enforcement. In fact, I quite admire the men and women who wear the badge. I am, after all, an ex-cop myself.  But the State Troopers on the Thruway seem to have one job: write speeding tickets.  The Thruway is nothing but a very long speed trap.  Now, I don't speed much myself (never intentionally), but on a freeway as wide, clear, straight and devoid of traffic as I-90, Troopers running radar seem to server but one purpose: Raising money for Albany.  It's an alternative form of taxation, and it doesn't provide much representation. It's too Big Brotherish for me, so I'd rather not participate in the whole Thruway experience.

So you're much more likely to find me tooling down Route 5 than 90.

Has there ever been a "Boycott the Thruway" effort? The the Thruway seems easily avoidable, even for long trips.  So why use it?

What do you think of the Thruway?  Is it a modern transportation convenience, a necessary evil, or something that can and should be avoided as much as possible?

Previously:   Contemplating Bill Kauffman's Batavia

Patrick Weissend
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Last seen: 8 years 3 months ago
Joined: May 23 2008 - 12:06am
I hate the thruway too, but sometimes its a necessary evil. I go to Canandagiua a lot to visit family. If I go there, I always take 5 & 20. I am more relaxed when I drive it and it gives me the opportunity to reflect and think. If I drive the thruway, as soon as I jump on I feel like I'm Mad Max and I need to barrel down the road as quick as possible. Routes 5 & 20 are "romantic" roads. They are more historic than Route 66. The only difference is "I get my kicks out on Route 5" doesn't really sound good. If I need to go further then Cdga to the east or Buffalo to the west, then its the thruway.

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