ALBANY, NY (06/28/2010)(readMedia)-- New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Michael R. Fleischer reminds motorists preparing to travel during the upcoming Independence Day holiday to drive with care, wear seat belts, hang up cell phones, and allow extra time for travel.
"The end of the school year, beginning of summer vacations, Fourth of July celebrations, and warm weather brings extra traffic to the Thruway," said New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Michael R. Fleischer. "Vacationers tend to take an extended weekend for the Fourth of July holiday, leading to increased traffic volumes on the Thruway. To accommodate the heavy traffic over the long holiday weekend, the Authority will minimize lane restrictions to help alleviate congestion; however, motorists are encouraged to plan ahead and leave extra time for travel."
In 2009, more than 2.65 million vehicles traveled more than 92.86 million miles on the Thruway System over the fourth of July holiday period (Thursday to Sunday).
Statistics indicate that 2009 was the safest year in the Thruway's 56-year history. A primary measure of safety is the fatality rate, which is calculated as the number of fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles (MVM) traveled. In 2009, there were 26 fatal accidents on the Thruway resulting in 27 deaths, reflecting a fatality rate of 0.27, the lowest rate in Thruway history, and nearly 1/5 the national fatality rate.
"The July 4th holiday marks warmer weather and heavy travel periods. Troop T constantly monitors traffic to insure that every motorist has a safe journey. As normal during heavy traffic periods, Troop T will assign additional patrols looking for hazardous motorists," said State Police Troop T Major Robert C. Meyers.
Throughout the holiday weekend, State Police Troop T, which exclusively patrols the Thruway, will be out in full force aiding motorists and enforcing traffic laws. The Thruway Authority and State Police remind all travelers to buckle up and properly secure children under age 4 in a child safety seat. Troop T will be specifically looking for motorists creating hazardous driving conditions including driving while intoxicated and speeding.
Holiday traffic delays are most likely to occur at the Lackawanna and Williamsville toll barriers near Buffalo; at Albany Interchanges 23 and 24; at the Canaan toll barrier and Interchange B1 on the Berkshire section of I-90, which connects the Thruway to the Massachusetts Turnpike; at Newburgh Interchange 17, Harriman Interchange 16, and at the Woodbury, New Rochelle and Tappan Zee Bridge toll barriers near New York City.
The busiest section of the Thruway will most likely be the Tappan Zee Bridge Corridor (Rockland and Westchester counties), particularly northbound at the beginning of the holiday weekend and southbound at the close.
The Authority offers a free email service called TRANSalert to its customers via email or text messaging to inform them of major unscheduled incidents that may affect their travel on the Thruway. Since the system's inception in August 2006, more than 7,100 subscribers have signed up to receive TRANSalert notifications.
For the most up-to-date information about unscheduled incidents affecting travel on the Thruway, motorists are encouraged to sign up for the TRANSalert service at the Authority's website at www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/ .
The Thruway Authority will again be taking the following steps during the holiday weekend to facilitate traffic and keep motorists informed.
Suspend Construction: In an effort to minimize traffic congestion, the Authority will temporarily suspend construction during the following dates and times:
• New York Division (from Interchange 1 in Yonkers to Interchange 18 in New Paltz) will suspend construction from 6 a.m. Friday, July 2, to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6.
• Albany Division (from Interchange 19 in Kingston to Interchange 29 in Canajoharie) will suspend construction from noon on Thursday, July 1, until noon on Tuesday, July 6.
• Syracuse Division (from Interchange 29A in Little Falls to Interchange 44 in Canandaigua) will suspend construction from noon on Wednesday, June 30, until noon on Tuesday, July 6.
• Buffalo Division (from Interchange 45 in Rochester to Interchange 61 at the Pennsylvania line) will suspend construction from noon on Wednesday, June 30,until 11 p.m. on Monday, July 5.
Provide Traveler Information: Should major delays occur, motorists will be advised through electronic Variable Message Signs (VMS) along the roadway, TRANSalerts and the Thruway's Highway Advisory Radio (HAR). The HAR stations broadcast traffic advisories, road conditions, weather reports and safety tips to travelers 24 hours a day. Motorists can listen to the traffic information by tuning their vehicle radios to the following HAR frequencies: New York City and Tappan Zee Bridge Corridor – 530 AM; Newburgh, Kingston, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo areas – 1610 AM; Utica area – 540 AM; Syracuse, Lafayette and Geneva/Waterloo areas – 1620 AM; and in the Ripley area – 98.7 FM. Up-to-date information on road conditions is also available by calling toll-free 1-800-THRUWAY (1-800-847-8929) or by logging on to www.thruway.ny.gov.
Monitor Traffic Incidents: In addition to State Police Troop T and maintenance patrols, the Authority will monitor traffic conditions for accidents and incidents by using closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras. By utilizing the Authority's interactive mapping interface, customers can also check on current, up-to-minute traffic incidents and access cameras along various sections of the Thruway system. There are currently 84 traffic cameras operating. Customers can access those cameras by logging on to the Authority's website at www.thruway.ny.gov/webcams/. Active monitoring facilitates quicker incident detection and response, thereby minimizing delays.
Motorists and their families should know that all Travel Plazas will be open providing all services for the Fourth of July weekend. For a complete listing of Travel Plazas along the Thruway, and services and amenities offered to motorists, please visit the Authority's website at www.thruway.ny.gov/travelplazas/index.html.
Motorists with E-ZPass accounts are reminded that E-ZPass can be used in any open toll lanes; however, in staffed lanes, E-ZPass users must come to a complete stop.