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December 30, 2009 - 8:08am

Today's Poll: Will the toll increase on the Thruway change whether you use the Thruway?

posted by Howard B. Owens in thruway, polls.
william tapp
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the thing is the Thruway does not belong to NYS, it belongs to stockholders , NYS loaned the money to build it.only way it can be tole free is if NYS buys it. and NYS is broke so they say if you believe them. politicians lie
Doug Yeomans
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So if the thruway isn't owned by the state, that means that the NYS Troopers that patrol the thruway are a bogus police force? Are the tickets they issue actually not even legal since it's a private highway? I'm so confused.
william tapp
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no the police are leased to the thruway under some type of contract .NYS does not own the thruway.
Howard B. Owens
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I don't think it's quite correct to say the state doesn't own the Thruway. The Legislature created a public corporation known as the Thruway Authority, according to Wikipedia. The authority built and maintains the Thruway, and the toll was supposed to disappear in 1997, but the Legislature voted to maintain it. I say, he who controls the money owns it. If the Legislature can decide whether there is a toll or not, than that tells me the people of New York own the Thruway. The Authority may "own" the Thruway, but the State owns the Authority. I can't find any reference via Google to suggest otherwise.
Dave Olsen
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http://www.nysthruway.gov/about/factbook/index.html#Introduction if you scroll down to "Why Tolls", it states that tolls are the Thruway's only source of income, it receives no state tax money. So, if they removed the tolls, the NY DOT which is already grossly underfunded, would have to pick up the cost and we all know where that bill gets sent. I travel all of upstate NY and the western half of PA and don't mind paying the toll. I know it takes 2 hours to Syracuse, 4 hours to Albany and 1 1/2 hours to Erie unless something extraordinary happens; if I used routes 5&20, it'd certainly take a lot longer but worse I couldn't plan the time as well. So, bottom line, if you don't use it, supposedly you don't pay for it. It's also not right on the other hand for the legislature to "sweep" the authority's bank account.
Howard B. Owens
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How is it that California and pretty much ever state in the west manages to operate large long stretches of freeway without a toll, but New York can't do it? How much of the Toll goes to paying for the overhead of maintaining the Authority? As far as I can tell, the only thing the Thruway Authority is good for is maintaining the historic Erie Canal.
John Roach
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Our Thruway Authority also has to take care of the canal system. Nice way to hide the expense. The authority should be eliminated and the Thruway and canal placed under the Dept. of Transportation. But, then a lot of patronage would disappear.
Dave Olsen
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I have long suspected that most of the tolls go to the overhead, I don't think they share that info, at least not very easily. Also, don't forget that here in the northeast we do have the heat/cold cycles that a lot of the west doesn't have, coupled with the salt and now chemical ice-dissolving products dumped on the road for 4 to 6 months every year. Potholes get ate out of the roadbed, bridge structures rust or corrode just like the cars and have to have a lot of maintenance. It creates more expense. I don't want to be the Thruway Authority's defender, just pointing out some issues, they have public information people, I'm sure you could ask them.
Tom Gilliatt
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I don't know much about the thruway authority and all but I know enough to ask "What do they need the extra money for?"
Dave Olsen
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Tom: read this, maybe it'll help. I don't know anything other than what I read either. http://rocnow.com/article/local-news/2009912300341
Tom Gilliatt
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Thanks Dave I looked it over and seen were they raised tolls because there was a decline in traffic, WOW I wonder why!!! People see these tolls going up so peeps are going to find a different way or route to save money and for the Thruway Authority to raise rate because of this they should be voted into in the DUMBASS of 2009 and 2010 club.
C. M. Barons
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One thing that is overlooked, the Thruway Authority is also in charge of the New York State Barge Canal/Erie Canal, a great piece of historical real estate and a major white elephant in terms of revenue. Aside from the money it brings to commercial interests in those communities bounding it, it is a drain as far as operating cost. The 2006 budget for canal operations was $80,149,581. Although I don't advocate filling the canal in; it certainly begs for a more equitable funding formula considering the disproportional value to the average New Yorker vis-a-vis those who use or profit from it. I was under the impression that the Thruway Authority and the New York Port Authority were somehow linked as well. I couldn't find any documentation for that. The two may have been connected in the past and separated. Who knows? The way Pataki played games with funding- it's anybody's guess. One little bit of history that is less than common knowledge: Thomas E. Dewey punished Rochester by diverting the Thruway route miles from the city. The popular explanation is that Rochester did not support Dewey in his '48 bid for the presidency, causing him not to carry the state. Another version of the story claims a squabble between Dewey and then-mayor, Samuel Dicker. As for comparing the New York State Thruway to California's freeways, I don't imagine there is much call for repairing frost heave and roadsalt corrosion in Los Angeles.
Howard B. Owens
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"As for comparing the New York State Thruway to California's freeways, I don't imagine there is much call for repairing frost heave and roadsalt corrosion in Los Angeles." That may be true, but the Thruway's construction and maintenance cost per mile should be much lower. The Thruway is only two lanes each way. The typical California freeway is four lanes, and often six (like through LA) and when I was in San Diego last I went through a section of I-15 that has been widened since I was last there -- I counted 10 lanes through one stretch. Also, the traffic on just about any freeway you care to name in California is probably 15 or 20 times greater than what the Thruway transports, with significantly more truck traffic, especially the I-15 and I-5. The Thruway's paving of course is always immaculate, which I can't always say about the typical stretch of California freeway. That said, California freeways are always serviceable. So how much money is wasted on the Thruway keeping it pretty near pristine all the time when serviceable would do?
Bea McManis
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I wonder how many trucking companies will take thier trucks off the thruway? The cost of doing business is high enough without another increase in tolls. I can see even more traffic on NYS truck routes.
Dave Olsen
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Howard, I don't think serviceable would do, on their web site, they talk about the safety and lower accident rates. If they stepped back on maintenance, accidents would rise and every politician and news reporter in the state would have a fit. I'd like to see the state look at a private operator. I'm sure there's a bog of legal issues involved, but it ought to at least be looked at. The rise in tolls might cause people not to take short trips on the Thruway (1 or 2 exits) but for anything over 50 or so miles, you can't compare. There's just a lot less commercial traffic moving in general due to the economic hole we are in.
Howard B. Owens
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There's fewer accidents on the Thruway because nobody speeds hardly. Nobody speeds because Troopers are everywhere. You're more likely to be caught speeding because there is less traffic to the ratio of Troopers. Since the Troopers are on the Thruway are dedicated to nothing but the Thruway they spend most of their time writing speeding tickets or patrolling for speeders. The accident rate, I'd say, is much more a factor of enforcement than road conditions. And the roads would have to deteriorate beyond serviceable before they would be a factor in driver safety. And all I'm really saying is I see no justification for the toll except to keep Toll, er, Thruway Authority people employed.
C. M. Barons
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The NYS Thruway is not the only toll highway in the country. For those states that are able to budget road maintenance from the general fund and not impose tolls- more power to them. In certain respects, especially for a turnpike that caters to commercial traffic and long-distance travel as opposed to point to point, I think tolls are fair. Costs are directed at the users. The arguments against tolls and toll increases become moot when one recognizes the option not to use and avoid the cost. In the vicinity of Rochester there are ample non-toll highways (390, 490, 590, Lake Parkway, I-86/17) as well as 5, 20, 33, 33A, 104 and 18 to provide viable alternatives to the Thruway. Personally, unless I'm travelling downstate or out of state, I rarely use the Thruway.
Howard B. Owens
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Even on a long drive, there's not much time advantage to the Thruway. A couple of years ago Billie and I drove to Massachusetts and stayed off the Thruway. The trip only took us more than an hour longer than if we had taken the Thruway, and it was a much more scenic and enjoyable ride. I only take the Thurway if the extra five minutes it will save getting to Rochester will be critical to an appointment or such.
Doug Yeomans
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I don't think I could make the trip from Rochester to Syracuse anywhere near as quickly going any other route as I could on the thruway. C'mon Howard, it only saved you an hour getting to Massachusetts on the thruway? This I just can't believe. I did a google maps trip plan on the thruway from Batavia to Lee, Massachusetts. The results were: Thruway only: 293 miles and 4 hours 35 minutes travel time. Taking Rt 20 all the way to 90 at Shodack Center, NY: 288 mi – about 7 hours 37 mins. That's 3 hours difference hitting all the lights and speed zone changes along the way. What route did you take where there was only an hour difference?
Howard B. Owens
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Google maps said Thruway to Amherst, MA is 5 hours. Our actual driving time was less than 7. We went 5 & 20 as far as we could and then various other blue highways. Total trip was about 10 hours, including stops. Well worth the extra time no matter how you slice it.

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