Things to Ask the New York State Thruway Authority (Update: Ray Walter Asked Some)
(Assemblyman Ray Walter posted this to Facebook on Thursday…
Transportation Budget Hearing today. Tweet or FB me your questions for DOT and Thruway and I’ll try to get them in.#Budget2014
…Here are the questions I “Facebooked”):
1. Why do we need a Thruway Authority? In other words, why can’t the State DOT assume the duty to maintain the roads over which the Thruway has jurisdiction?
2. Assuming there is a satisfactory answer to #1, why can’t the Thruway Authority automate toll collection? This would save money for the Authority, and lost productivity and time for motorists.
3. How much does the Thruway Authority cost to operate every year as a separate entity, and how much of that is paid through tolls?
4. Similar to #2, but even if not fully automated, what reason exists to employ actual human beings to act as a middleman between a ticket dispensing machine and a motorist? Is there some magical forcefield that prevents motorists from taking a ticket themselves?
5. The toll barriers in Williamsville, Lackawanna, and at the PA border are inadequate for the amount of traffic they get during peak times in the summer. Will the TA institute a process to let motorists through toll-free during bad back-ups to alleviate traffic, and to prevent the poisoning of the air for nearby residents?
6. The TA operates the I-190, which handles most Canadian traffic. Why are the only tourism offices located at the Angola and Clarence plazas? Why is there no rest area / tourism office serving Canadians arriving on the Q-L, Rainbow, and Peace Bridges to spend money in WNY?
7. Also related to #2, EZ-Pass has the capability to collect tolls while traffic moves at highway speeds. Why is there no “EZ-Pass only” lane that lets vehicles go by at highway speeds at the major barriers in WNY?
8. It is my understanding that the tolls at Williamsville cannot be expanded due to lack of space. There has been a big push by certain towns (especially Vill of W’Ville) to move the barrier (if one needs to exist) back to somewhere between Clarence and the Pembroke exit. Why hasn’t this happened? What is the hold-up?
10. Is there any other system that might be implemented for the collection of tolls on the NYS Thruway that the TA has looked into? For instance, payment by mobile phone, payment of an annual, daily, or weekly pass to use the road, etc?
11. Will the TA raise the speed limit on the Thruway in rural areas between Albany – PA Line to 75 MPH?
12. The numbering scheme for exits on the Thruway is counterintuitive – many exits have been added and instead of re-numbering the system to accommodate them, the TA has just slapped an “A” at the end of the exit. Other states have implemented a system whereby the exit numbers correspond with the mile markers. When I wrote to the TA 10 yrs ago about this, they claimed that they couldn’t make this change because the road actually follows the I-87 and then the I-90, but this makes no sense. After all, the exit numbering scheme sequential along these two roadways, and the mile markers begin at 0 at the Deegan/Yonkers line and ascend along the I-87, continuing to the I-90. The Transit Road exit in Depew should be 415.
That’s all I’ve got for now.
UPDATE: Assemblyman Walter got to ask some of them. Here’s what the Thruway guy said: