Tag Archives: NYS Thruway

Things to Ask the New York State Thruway Authority (Update: Ray Walter Asked Some)

31 Jan

(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? 

9. EZ-Pass transponders are operating throughout Manhattan. Why?

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:

Protesting Milstein

13 Jun

From my inbox this morning, a Niagara Falls-based group (NOAH – Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope) will be protesting the appointment of New York developer and Niagara Falls land speculator Howard Milstein as chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority:

A mock ribbon-cutting ceremony, in recognition of the Niagara Falls Redevelopment (NFR) 12-Year Development Plan and its accomplishments in Niagara Falls, will be held Wednesday, June 15th, at 4 p.m. on Old Falls Street across from Holy Trinity Church (between 13 and 14 St.) in Niagara Falls.

The public is encouraged to attend in question of Howard Milstein’s nomination as head of the NYS Thruway Authority which comes before the State Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo (R-8th District), that day.

NOAH (Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope)  is appalled at this decision, according to Pastor David Crapnell, rector of the First Presbyterian Church in Niagara Falls and president of NOAH.

“After 12 years of waiting, Mr. Milstein has developed nothing,” Crapnell explained. “He currently owns and manages 441 parcels of land in the center of Niagara Falls and despite his promises to invest $130 million dollars in development, the NFR , the private firm controlled by Milstein, has yet to develop a single parcel of land.”

NOAH has sent a letter to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and all members of the Senate Transportation Committee inviting them to attend the ceremony to speak with community members and witness what Milstein’s amassing of land has done to the city.

“We are asking you to send a signal that such behavior will not be tolerated, let alone rewarded by your administration,” Crapnell wrote. “We have endured years of broken promises by Mr. Milstein, which has resulted in a modern day Hiroshima next to one of the most treasured natural wonders of North America.”

NOAH is well acquainted with holding Milstein and his company accountable. In 2009, a government grant for $400,000 was suspiciously redirected through the New York State Dormitory Authority away from the city of Niagara to NFR for the renovation of a former funeral home into office space. Due to the outrage of NOAH and several other community groups that a private company receive public money to develop an existing property, the state had the grant withdrawn.

Milstein’s history in Niagara Falls will be documented at the press conference and NOAH will call for a hold on the appointment until he has met with community leaders and begun to develop the empty land.