Thruway Authority Encourages Motorists to Plan Ahead for Busy Memorial Day Weekend

May 27, 2011 Updated May 24, 2011 at 11:59 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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Thruway Authority Encourages Motorists to Plan Ahead for Busy Memorial Day Weekend

May 27, 2011 Updated May 24, 2011 at 11:59 AM EDT

Albany, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- The New York State Thruway Authority encourages motorists to plan ahead for the busy Memorial Day weekend, the start of the summer travel period.

Traveling to friends and family is a natural way to enjoy the weekend along with celebrating special holiday events, shopping, traveling to statewide historic sites, and honoring those who served our country.

"Traditionally, the Memorial Day holiday period results in increased traffic volumes on the Thruway as millions of motorists travel throughout the long weekend," said Thruway Authority Executive Director Michael R. Fleischer. "As the school year comes to an end, it's a good reminder for teen and all drivers to practice safe driving habits. We encourage all travelers to prepare ahead of time, avoid unsafe driving, and enjoy picnicking at one of the 27 Travel Plazas or rest stops along the Thruway."

Throughout last year's Memorial Day holiday travel period (Friday to Monday), more than 2.5 million vehicles traveled more than 84 million miles on the Thruway.

"Memorial Day weekend kicks off heavy travel while motorists drive to friends and family. Safety is key and Troop T ensures that every motorist and passenger is guaranteed of a pleasant journey. Typically, during heavy traffic periods, Troop T assigns additional patrols checking out hazardous motorists, including aggressive drivers, those using a cell phone without using a hands-free device and texting," said State Police Troop T Major Robert C. Meyers.

Holiday traffic delays are most likely to occur at the Lackawanna and Williamsville Toll Barriers near Buffalo; Southbound and North Grand Island Bridge and Northbound South Grand Island Bridge Toll Plazas; 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; at Harriman Interchange 16, and at the Woodbury, New Rochelle and Tappan Zee Bridge toll barriers near the New York City region.

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 of the weekend.

To accommodate heavier traffic usually associated with this holiday weekend, the Thruway Authority has suspended construction activities and included additional personnel on the road and at the toll plazas to assist travelers.

Suspend Construction: The Thruway Authority suspends construction each year for Memorial Day Weekend in an effort to minimize traffic congestion.

• The New York Division, between Exit 1 (Yonkers) to Exit 18 (New Paltz), will suspend construction from noon on Thursday, May 26 through 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 31.

• The Albany Division, between Exit 19 (Kingston) to Exit 29 (Canajoharie), will suspend construction from noon on Thursday, May 26, through noon on Tuesday, May 31.

• The Syracuse Division, between Exit 29A (Little Falls) to Exit 44 (Canandaigua), will suspend construction from 7:30 a.m. on Friday May 27 through 8 p.m. Monday, May 30.

• The Buffalo Division, between Exit 45 (Rochester) to the Pennsyvania line, will suspend construction from noon on Thursday, May 26 through 11 p.m. Monday, May 30.

State Police will schedule at least one fixed sobriety checkpoint during the holiday weekend, between midnight Friday, May 27, and midnight on Monday, May 30.

This year, the Thruway Authority will take a number of steps to help facilitate traffic movement and keep motorists informed along the Thruway's 2,818 lane miles of highway and more than 800 bridges, including: Providing Traveler Information: Should major delays occur, motorists will be advised through electronic Variable Message Signs along the roadway, TRANSalerts, and the Thruway's Highway Advisory Radio. The HAR stations broadcast traffic advisories, road conditions, weather reports and safety tips to travelers 24 hours a day.

TRANSalerts are free notices sent to subscribers automatically via e-mail or text messaging, informing them of major unscheduled incidents that may affect their travel on the Thruway. Since the system's inception in August 2006, more than 7,964 subscribers have signed up to receive TRANSalert notifications. Motorists may subscribe to the TRANSalert service at the Thruway Authority's website at www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/ .

Motorists may 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; Utica area – 540 AM; Newburgh, Kingston, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo areas – 1610 AM; Little Falls/Herkimer, Syracuse, Lafayette (I-81), Waterloo/Geneva – 1620 AM; Ripley – 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 going to www.thruway.ny.gov . (http://www.thruway.ny.gov/ ). In addition, go to www.511ny.org (http://www.511ny.org/ ) for statewide traffic information.

Monitoring Traffic Incidents: In addition to State Police Troop T and maintenance patrols, the Thruway Authority will increase its monitoring of traffic conditions for accidents and incidents using closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras. By using the Thruway Authority's interactive mapping interface, customers may also check on current, up-to-the-minute traffic incidents and access cameras along various sections of the Thruway system. There are currently 96 operating traffic cameras, and customers can access those cameras by visiting the Thruway Authority's website at www.thruway.ny.gov/webcams/ .

Active monitoring by the Thruway Authority facilitates quicker incident detection and response, thereby minimizing delays. Travel Plaza TVs will display TRANSalert messages of any incident which is 50 miles downstream of the plaza. This enhancement will inform motorists about incidents which may impact their trip and prompt them to consider an alternative route.

The Thruway Authority will perform maintenance patrols over the holiday weekend to remove debris and animal carcasses from the highway and empty trash barrels at rest and parking areas. These patrols are typically performed on Sunday morning, one from each of the Thruway Authority's 21 maintenance sections.

Motorists and their families should know that all Travel Plazas will be providing all services for the Memorial Day weekend. For a complete listing of Travel Plazas along the Thruway, and services and amenities offered to motorists, please visit the Thruway Authority's website at www.thruway.ny.gov/travelplazas/index.html .