Snow or not, holiday travelers will embark by the millions this week to visit family and friends. Here are some answers to questions you may have had about the 570-mile long road through New York.
Snow or not, holiday travelers will embark by the millions this week to visit family and friends.
AAA anticipates 63.9 million people — or 21 percent of the nation’s population — will travel 50 miles or more between Dec. 19 and the end of the year. About 82 percent of those travelers — or 52.4 million — are expected to hit the road.
In New York, it often means one road in particular: the state Thruway.
Farmington resident Tammy Means, 39, is a fan of the toll road she takes to work every day.
“It’s a smooth ride,” said the customer support representative at Unisys Corp. in Henrietta. “They always keep it cleaner than a lot of the other roads in the winter time.”
But Means does take issue with one aspect of the cross-state highway: high fuel prices at service stops. Gas prices have dropped from an average of $4.21 in the region in July to less than $2 at many stations today, but they remain stubbornly higher than average on the Thruway.
“I make sure I (buy gas) any place but the Thruway because it’s often 10 to 15 cents higher than any other place,” she said.
So, why exactly are gas prices typically steeper on the Thruway? We asked Kimberly Chupa, a state Thruway Authority spokeswoman, along with other questions you may have about the highway.
Q: Who sets the gas prices at the travel plazas?
A: Fuel prices are based on the averages of at least four selected gas stations close to the travel plaza. A survey is taken at the beginning of each week that determines that week’s gas prices. Fuel service operators can set their price two cents higher than the average price of the survey, or one cent lower than the highest price, whichever is less.
Q: What happens if a driver arrives at an exit toll booth and can’t find the toll ticket?
A: According to Thruway Authority policy, the toll collector is to collect the toll from the most distant toll station unless the driver can provide proof — a hotel receipt or a gas station receipt, for example — that he or she began the trip at a closer entrance.
Q: What happens to a driver who doesn’t have enough cash to pay the toll?
A: A driver can also pay with a check. Credit cards are not accepted at the toll booths. If the driver doesn’t have enough cash or a check, he or she will be given an unpaid toll receipt. The driver should send that receipt, along with a check or money order payable to the New York State Thruway Authority, by mail to address on the receipt.
Q: What happens to a driver who travels faster through the E-ZPass lane than the overhead speed limit signs allow?
A: If speeding through the toll lane has been detected, the tag holder will be issued a warning, which remains on his or her E-ZPass account for six months. Another violation could result in suspension or revocation of E-ZPass privileges. For those who have no further violations during the six-month period, the warning is removed.
Q: Will the Authority consider increasing the 65 mile per hours speed limit?
A: No. Authority traffic engineering staff have reviewed operating conditions, accident statistics, average speeds and traffic volumes to determine the speed limit.
Q: Since tolls have gone up, can you figure out Thruway toll costs before you hit the road?
A: Yes. A toll calculator is available at www.nysthruway.gov/