New York State Thruway

The New York State Thruway (officially the Thomas E. Dewey Thruway) is a limited-access toll highway in the U.S. state of New York. Built in the 1950s by the State of New York in order to connect the major cities of New York, it is the longest toll road in the United States, with the 426-mi (681 km) mainline connecting Buffalo in western New York with the Bronx in New York City. In 1958 it became incorporated in to the Interstate Highway System as portions of Interstate 87, Interstate 287, Interstate 90, and Interstate 190. It is operated by the New York State Thruway Authority.

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NY Thruway Sign



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New York State Thruway (I-87) looking east from Nordkop Mtn, Suffern, NY, toward the Tappan Zee Bridge

From west to east: the highway begins as Interstate 90 along Lake Erie on the Pennsylvania border in Chautauqua County. It follows the lake shore northeast and passes along the eastern side of Buffalo. Across northern New York, it roughly parallels the route of the Erie Canal, passing north of Batavia, south of Rochester, north of Syracuse, and north of Utica before following the valley of the Mohawk River to Albany.

South of Albany, it continues as the southern portion of Interstate 87, roughly paralleling the Hudson River to the river's west, passing near Kingston, New Paltz, and Newburgh. South of Harriman, it follows the valley of the Ramapo River until its junction near the New Jersey border with Interstate 287, which it joins, then cuts east across Rockland County. It connects with the New York segment of the Garden State Parkway then crosses the Hudson on the Tappan Zee Bridge. On the east side of the Hudson it continues south through Westchester County to the Bronx.


A toll superhighway connecting the major cities of New York State which would become part of a larger nationwide highway network was first proposed in 1949. The following year in 1950 the New York State Legislature passed the Thruway Authority Act creating the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA), an independent public corporation to build and manage the turnpike. The project was to be financed through toll revenue bonds, and self-liquidating by receipt of tolls, rents, concessions, and other income. The act also stipulated NYSTA adopt a hybrid system of tolls, with barrier tolls collected in urban areas, and long-distance tickets issued in rural areas.

The thruway opened in sections in the mid 1950s. The first section, between Lowell and Rochester, opened on June 24, 1954. The last section of 426 mi (681 km) mainline between Buffalo and the Bronx completed on August 31, 1956. The total cost was 600 million dollars, financed by the sale of 972 million dollars of bonds. At the time, it was the longest toll road in the world.

In 1957, the mainline was extended 70 mi (112 km) west from Buffalo along Lake Erie to the Pennsylvania border. From 1957 to 1960, several spurs of the road were built to connect the road to turnpikes in the neighboring states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. In 1958, sections of the thruway were given the current designations as part of the Interstate Highway System.

In 1964, the New York State Legislature officially renamed the thruway in honor of former governor Thomas E. Dewey. The official designation is, however, rarely used in reference to the road.

In August 1993, the NYSTA became the first agency to implement the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system. By December 1996 it was implemented at all toll barriers on the Thruway.

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