WGVA 106.3FM 1240AMMix 98.5101.7 The WallWFLR Finger Lakes Country Classic Hits 99.3The Lake 100.1/104.5 WAUB 96.3FM 1590AM

New York State Thruway Turns 70 Monday


The New York State Thruway Authority is celebrating a major milestone on June 24, 2024, marking 70 years since the first tolls were collected on the Thruway system.

On June 24, 1954, the first tolled section of the Thruway opened, a 115-mile stretch of I-90 between Lowell (West of exit 32 – Westmoreland) and Rochester (exit 46 – Henrietta).

“This year the Thruway marks 70 years of service in New York State, connecting communities, tourist destinations and bolstering the economy with a modern transportation system,” Thruway Authority Executive Director Frank G. Hoare, Esq said. “New Yorkers were proud of the enormous accomplishment at the time the Thruway opened in 1954, and we continue that tradition of safety, service and reliability today and for decades to come. We’d like to thank Applegreen, our service area operator, for offering the special pricing to commemorate our anniversary, and we thank all of our customers, employees and transportation partners for their support and dedication over the years. Happy 70th anniversary to the Thruway.”

During the ceremonies the morning of June 24, 1954, Gov. Thomas E. Dewey attended the ribbon cuttings and celebrations along the route just west of Utica to Rochester at exit 46. At 13 toll booths along the route, cars were lined up for hours to be the first on the Thruway. At 10 p.m. that night, in the Powers Hotel in Rochester, Gov. Dewey pushed a button and buzzers sounded at every toll booth between West Henrietta and Lowell. Every toll collector heard the Governor’s voice via Thruway communications, as he proclaimed the road open to traffic. Minutes later, the first Thruway tolls were collected.

The second major opening on the system was August 26, 1954, when the section of the Thruway from Rochester to Buffalo opened, followed by the stretch from Utica to Newburgh on October 26, and the 15-mile section from Newburgh to Harriman on December 22.

During its first year of operation, there were a total of 8,700,000 trips made by motorists with mileage totaling 522,000,000.

In the years following, additional sections of the Thruway opened to traffic. In December 1957, the final 29-mile link in the Erie Section was opened to traffic, extending from the Silver Creek interchange to join the Thruway’s mainline in Buffalo. This established an unbroken Thruway route of 496 miles from New York City to the Pennsylvania state line and made the Thruway the longest toll highway in the world. The Thruway eventually expanded to its current 570-miles of roadway in 1991.

Anniversary Events

To mark the Thruway Authority’s 70th anniversary, a special video commemorates the historic opening of the Thruway and service over the past 70 years. Additionally, the Authority has posted historic pictures on the Authority’s website looking back at opening day in June 1954 and the decades following.

As a special service to customers, Applegreen is offering $0.31 cups of coffee on June 24 at 17 Thruway Service Areas, reflecting the average price in 1954. The discounted price will be available all day on June 24 at the Applegreen C-Store in the following locations:

  • Ardsley Service Area (I-87 northbound between 6A and exit 7)
  • Plattekill Service Area (I-87 northbound between 17 and exit 18)
  • Modena Service Area (I-87 south between exit 18 and exit 17)
  • New Baltimore Service Area (I-87 northbound and southbound between exit 21B and exit 21A)
  • Guilderland Service Area (I-90 eastbound between exit 25 and exit 24)
  • Indian Castle Service Area (I-90 eastbound between exit 29A and exit 29)
  • Iroquois Service Area (I-90 westbound between exit 29 and exit 29A)
  • Schuyler Service Area (I-90 westbound between exit 30 and exit 31)
  • Oneida Service Area (I-90 eastbound between exit 33 and exit 32)
  • Chittenango Service Area (I-90 westbound between exit 34 and exit 34A)
  • Warners Service Area (I-90 westbound between exit 39 and exit 40)
  • Port Byron Service Area (I-90 eastbound between exit 41 and exit 40)
  • Junius Ponds Service Area (I-90 westbound between exit 41 and exit 42)
  • Clifton Springs Service Area (I-90 eastbound between exit 43 and exit 42)
  • Seneca Service Area (I-90 westbound between exit 44 and exit 45)
  • Clarence Service Area (I-90 westbound between exit 48A and exit 49)
  • Pembroke Service Area (I-90 eastbound between exit 48A and exit 48)
Get the top stories on your radio 24/7 on Finger Lakes News Radio 96.3 and 1590, WAUB and 106.3 and 1240, WGVA, and on Finger Lakes Country, 96.1/96.9/101.9/1570 WFLR.