Tag Archives: Niagara Falls Redevelopment

Dear Howard Milstein:

2 Jun

I want to thank you for taking time out from your busy land speculation schedule here in western New York to take the reins of the byzantine and anachronistic New York State Thruway Authority.

I don’t say it’s out-of-date because toll roads are yesterday’s news. Instead, I’m referring to the fact that EZ-Pass holders still have to queue up at the toll booths like it was 1955.

I realize that removing tolls from I-90 and I-87 is probably not on the table at this point, but as a frequent traveler up and down the entire stretch of the Thruway, perhaps the state could recognize that paying $22 to get from the Deegan to Ripley is a pretty big chunk of money when one takes free alternatives into consideration. Many other toll systems – largely not in the Northeastern US, but elsewhere – have implemented a system that recognizes the fact that automated toll collection obviates the need for queueing.

Here is an example of how it’s done in Florida. Cars with transponders continue along the roadway at highway speeds, while people paying cash detour to the booths.

Seriously, it’s insane that the Williamsville, Ripley, and Lackawanna tolls booths are all designed to make even people with EZ-Pass queue up. Why? What’s the reason? Quite evidently the technology can support toll collection at 65 MPH without slowing. During the summertime, the busier toll barriers can be backed up for miles, wasting fuel and time for people who just want to travel through this state.

The Toronto area’s private 407 highway is completely automated, where cars without transponders pay by mail, as overhead cameras snap its license plate and send you a bill.

I could go on about the fact that the rest areas are just glorified food courts with toilets, and that no one’s eaten Roy Rogers in 20 years. I could mention the fact that there’s a cruel irony that the free I-90 in Pennsylvania has a smooth surface while the surface on the New York portion just after the tolls is ripped up like a Buffalo side road in the springtime. I could even mention the fact that other states, like the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, sell toll-related sponsorships to private corporations to help fund Turnpike operations there, helping to keep tolls down.

I think people wouldn’t be so peeved about paying the tolls if the privilege of holding an EZ-Pass transponder conveyed an actual benefit in time and fuel.

Furthermore, the idiotic way in which the exits are numbered should go. It’s silly that we have exits like “48A” because the Thruway tacked on a Pembroke exit between Batavia and Transit Road. The mile markers on the Thruway tick down the mileage from the New York City line. The exit numbers should follow that same pattern. It’s done in other states and helps people keep track of their progress, and makes it easier to add and subtract exits from the roadway.  I once wrote to the Thruway about this, and they replied that this couldn’t be done because the road follows I-87 and I-90. Seems to me this isn’t an impediment to the mile markers following that change.

Good luck to you in your new position, and I hope to see some activity on the properties you own in Niagara Falls sooner rather than later.

With regards,