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New Technology Could Allow New Thruway Exits

NYS Thruway
Eric Meier collection

Let’s say you’re planning a trip to or from Whitesboro or Marcy, and that trip involves the New York State Thruway.  Doesn’t it seem silly that the Thruway runs right though both towns, but you still have drive miles out of the way to access the highway?  Lite 98.7′s Peter Naughton proposes a solution.

It’s understandable that many of the New York State Thruway interchanges in our area are spaced pretty far apart.  (It’s roughly 10-12 miles between each of the exits from Little Falls to Canastota.)  When the highway was constructed in the 50s and 60s, upstate was even more rural than it is today.  On top of that, every interchange has to be staffed 24/7 by toll collectors.  Those salaries add up, so it makes sense to limit the number of interchanges.

Today, those considerations are outdated.  Our region has grown somewhat, and I can think of a few “more convenient” places to get on and off the Thruway than the existing interchanges.

For example, wouldn’t it be nice to hop on or off at Oriskany Boulevard in Whitesboro without having to drive several miles of slower roads with stop signs and traffic lights to get to the exits in Utica or Westmoreland?  An interchange with Route 46 near Oneida would provide more direct access than Verona, especially for ambulances rushing patients to the hospital there.

Not enough room for new exits, some people might think.  Hiring more toll collectors could cost too much, others would argue.  Well, let’s get with the times.  Other states like Texas and Florida have been operating “cashless” toll highways for years.  If you have a toll tag (like E-ZPass), you get a discount.  If you don’t, they just snap a photo of your license plate and you get a bill in the mail.  Best of all, there’s no need to slow down or stop — you can cruise right through these automated toll points at full speed.

Do you think it’s a good idea, or am I just nitpicking about saving a few minutes here and there?  Share your thoughts by posting a comment below!

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