Tag Archives: Thruway Authority

We Can’t Have Nice Things

25 Feb

A change that Florida has made to one of its toll roads.

See that?

The people with a toll transponder stay on the main highway lanes at highway speeds, while people who have to pay cash pull over to the side and enjoy their wait.

New York State Thruway failure of an Authority, why the hell can’t we have that? If you’re going to make me pay almost $30 to drive to Yonkers, at least let me fly through the damn tolls.

Want to talk about Buffalo being branded as fun or innovative or historical or a place with great wings? How about just a basic competence?* If we had just that, we’d be one step ahead and worrying about how to brand this place would be significantly easier.

We can’t have dessert until after we’ve finished our meal. Buffalo hasn’t even ordered yet.

*I realize that this sounds like I’m bashing Brian’s post, but I’m not. I’m just saying that none of that branding stuff matters if we can’t do really simple, basic things properly.

The Jokes Write Themselves

18 Apr

Some people should stick to collecting quarters.

But seriously, threats like these directed at Rus Thompson are astonishing, coming from a guy bitching that he might lose his $21/hr job collecting quarters through a system that should either be (1) abolished; or (2) completely automated, given the fact that it’s 2009 and we’re using medieval technology.

Someone call the whaaaaambulance. Good thing he’s up on charges.

NYS Thruway Authority: Right on Top of that Whole “Maintenance” Mandate

8 Dec

The above is something, but it isn’t modern art.

Rus Thompson was on Bauerle’s show this morning, and on his site explains:

For a few weeks I have been watching as an inspector went up and down each and every concrete pier under the South Grand Island Bridge. He started on the Tonawanda side first then went over to the Grand Island side.

On every pier there are markings, some of them look like jig saw puzzles. Some of the lines are white and some are orange. But they are everywhere on every pier.

Last year a group of concerned citizens attended a regular meeting of the bridge committee at Town Hall. Questions were brought up to the panel concerning structural damage to the bridge supports, bridge bearings, sliding plates and most importantly, rust that for years that has been oozing out of the concrete piers that hold up the Grand Island South Bridge.

My major concern is and always has been the condition of the concrete piers. It is not normal to have rust running down the sides, cracks, chunks of concrete missing, and swelling concrete

It’s not. It looks like the South Grand Island Bridge is up for a lot of … work.

But Rus makes the larger point – the Thruway Authority has said time and time again that toll revenue is needed for bridge maintenance. They sent a guy out to inspect the bridge, and…

Now, this coming year they plan on “Borrowing” over 45 Million to repair and re deck the North bound South Bridge. Apparently now they are planning on repairing the concrete piers, all of them including the bases and the bases that are in the Niagara River.

Wouldn’t you think regular repairs and maintenance over these decades could have prevented all this?

This is completely irresponsible and shows that these bridge tolls are simply a cash cow for the Thruway Authority and Albany.

The Thruway Authority is an incompetent cabal of irresponsible patronage hire liars operating a system mired in 80s-era technology, and most of its money goes for self-preservation. As my 2 year-old would say, all done Thruway Authority. All done.

Abolish the Thruway Authority

10 Nov

The state DOT, which manages not just highways, but airports, seaports, and some public transportation, has an annual budget of $7.4 billion.

The Thruway Authority, which manages the Thruway and Erie Canal, has an annual budget of over a billion dollars, and a little over half of its money is collected through tolls. I’ve written extensively, critically, and dismissively of the Thruway Authority, and I won’t repeat those here.

The obvious solution is abolition of the bloated, inefficient Thruway Authority. The problem is – if you incorporate it into the State DOT, it will cost money to maintain and service, and the money has to come from somewhere. Most likely, your pocket through gas tax hikes or similar.

But there’s another way.

In the past, I’ve suggested that the Thruway take a hint from Toronto’s 407 and make toll collection something that’s done at highway speeds. But that’s expensive and probably not necessary.

Instead, many European countries share the cost burden of highway maintenance through sales of stickers.

Austria (for vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes), the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Hungary have toll motorways (some motorways, though, are toll-free). Payment in those countries is done in the form of “vignettes”, or stickers being affixed to the car’s front window, which are valid for a certain amount of time. The time is always one calendar year in Switzerland; in Austria and Hungary cheaper vignettes with shorter validity are also available. Slovenia introduced vignettes on July 1, 2008. Due to the fact that the vignette with the shortest time-frame available is valid for 6 months and costs € 35, vignettes have been met with fierce opposition.

Naturally, we could follow the Austrian model where 10 days of travel cost € 7.70 of unlimited travel on that country’s highways. The Swiss system is an annual charge of SFr 40. If caught without a vignette, the Swiss charge you a SFr 100 fine, plus the cost of a vignette. The Austrians are stricter, charging between € 400 and € 4,000 for a missing sticker. Given that it now costs almost $20 to get from the Major Deegan to the PA line, a $10 sticker for 10 days’ worth of highway travel is a bargain.

Vignettes could be sold at welcome centers entering New York or leaving bordering states. They could be sold online, in advance, or, as they are in Hungary, even via cell phone text message:

The point here is that the roads need to be paid for, and it makes sense for the people using them to pay for them. People could avoid buying the stickers by using secondary roads, so it’s completely optional. We could abolish not only the entire Thruway Authority, but most of its associated, dedicated toll-collecting costs. We could get rid of its obnoxious exclusive contracts with towing and wrecker services on the Thruway. But something different should at least be examined.

(Photo of Swiss Vignette by g-trieber @ Flickr.com)