Thruway

7 Dec

Not unexpectedly, chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority Howard Milstein is doing for the Thruway exactly what he’s done for Niagara Falls under the auspices of his Niagara Falls Redevelopment, LLC

That is, nothing

In 2011, its revenue dropped by 1.1%, but its costs went up by 3.9%. Its operation is firmly stuck in the 1950s – so antiquated that it employs human beings to operate an automated ticket dispenser and hand toll tickets out to motorists. It is a caricature of idiotic work rules and redundancy. 

Governor Cuomo appointed Milstein to this post – is he pleased with how the Thruway is doing and what it’s done? Is anyone in the Albany delegation living west of Albany and within 30 – 40 miles of a Great Lakes sick of the fact that the state runs a 1950s-era toll road in 2012 that acts as a tax on motorists living within that geographic range?  I mean, legislators from the north have a freeway to get to Albany, those from the south have the free Taconic, and those from the Southern Tier have the free 86/17 and the I-88 to get to Albany. Legislators who live within 20 miles of the Thruway west of Albany should be taking that roadway’s cost and operation as if it was a discriminatory tax on their constituents. 

Enough is enough. 

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7 Responses to “Thruway”

  1. David A. Steele December 7, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    There are no such things a s free roads.  If they have no tolls then someone else is paying for them some how whether they use them or not.  The users should pay for the roads.  All highways should be toll roads.  Better yet, they should all be sold off and privately owned  and operated and should be paying real estate taxes.   I am sure there are many conservative suburbanites who could get on board with that.  Imagine – instead of taxpayers paying for highways the highways pay the tax payers instead.  Seems like a no brainer to me.

    • saltecks December 7, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Virginia has a privately owned 12mi toll road, the Dulles Greenway. It will revert to the state  around 2050. Here is what ‘Rep. Frank Wolf
      (R-Va.), the Congressman representing the area served by the road,
      stated, “It’s highway robbery. It’s a disgrace. Everyone knows that
      these tolls are ripping people off and there’s not much we can do about
      it.”

    • Alan Bedenko December 7, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      That’s very libertarian of you. 

      To extend your argument, if all roads should be paid for on an as-used basis, then all roads – town, county, state, federal – should have toll barriers or payment for access. That means even bicyclists should be paying to use these roads rather than be freeloaders taking advantage of redistributive socialist road networks. 

      By contrast, I recognize that roadways are a civic, economic, and social necessity; one that we pay for collectively as taxpayers. Indeed, gasoline sales taxes help pay for our road networks, in part. 

      I don’t necessarily mind if the Thruway remains a toll road, even with its inherent unfairness to people living west of Albany along the Erie Canal corridor, as compared to people in the rest of the state. I’d prefer it, however, if the Authority would modernize its facilities and reform its practices so that its operation was being handled as efficiently as possible, with an eye to reducing the inconvenience to motorists of toll barrier congestion, as well as the adverse environmental effects from idling engines at toll barriers. 

      • David A. Steele December 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

         It would be logistically very difficult to charge for all roads.  Limited access roads however would be very easy to charge for and have a specific user constituency that can be easily isolated.  It makes sense that highways be paid for by the direct user.  They could easily be privatized and should then pay taxes back to the communities.

        As for bikers paying for use of roads.  Perhaps they should but if roads were built for bikes they would be far far far less expensive to build than they currently are and bikes are not allowed on highways- so there is that. 

        As for my political bent – I will listen to and consider any good idea from any political wing.  I think you would too.  I am willing to bet that there won’t be too many people “calling” themselves libertarian would would go for privatized highways though.  Too many so called conservative suburbanites like their “free” socialistic roads.

      • Alan Bedenko December 7, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

        Well, either way, I’m talking about reality and likelihoods. It’s highly unlikely that the state will impose tolls on the 87 north of Albany, on the 86/17, on the 88, or on the Taconic. It is also highly unlikely that tolls will be abolished along the Thruway. 

        So, the issue then becomes making the toll road work for the people who actually use it. 

        With that said, interstates are funded overwhelmingly by federal, state, local fuel taxes. 

      • David A. Steele December 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

         Yea that is the problem – I and many others almost never use interstates and the ones I do use are mostly toll roads.  So I pay twice.  The gas tax by the way does not pay the full load and with the advent of electric cars that cash cow will start decreasing. 

  2. Jesse Griffis December 7, 2012 at 10:54 am #

    The Greenway is a beautiful, well-maintained, modern (all electronic) road. It uses congestion-based pricing to keep traffic moving.

    It’s just outstanding and should be a model for other expressways.

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