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Early City of New York
Toll Bridges, Plank Roads
|Pre-TBTA Agencies||Triborough Bridge & |
MTA Bridges & Tunnels
|Port of New York Authority |
Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey
|State of New Jersey|
Before commencing onto the various locations, there is a road in the State of New York that while it is called a toll road, at the current time I will not be including on the website:
Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway or New York State Route 431.
This road allows drivers to access the top of Whiteface Mountain from the village of Wilmington, NY. The road contains several scenic overlooks and where upon reaching the top of the mountain, the road ends. Since technically this road is not a through-way offering connection to another road, nor is it a bridge or tunnel crossing, the only purpose of the said "toll" is to access the top of the mountain.
Therefore it is in my judgment that this is more of an admission or access fee, much like Jones Beach or any one of hundreds of other scenic or historical sites in the United States that charge for access. It is precisely this nature of being just an access and not a "thoroughfare", which precludes it from being a true and conventional toll road and therefore inclusion here.
Moriah Plank Road
Barret Bridge Company
This next issue is from the Barret Bridge Company, (spelled with both one or two T's) and was located over the Delaware River connecting Port Jervis, NY with Matamoras, Pennsylvania. These tickets are from the first incarnation.
There were a total of three bridges at this location.
The first bridge, a two span suspension bridge, built 1872, damaged by ice flows and debris which knocked the spans down stream on March 17, 1875. The spans of the bridge were located and hauled back upstream to their location and reassembled. The bridge reopened with a couple of weeks. This first bridge would then be destroyed permanently by river flooding on October 11, 1903.
The second bridge, called the "New Barrett Bridge", and of Pennsylvania through truss construction was finished in 1903 and remained open until October 9, 1939.
This second bridge was replaced by a similar truss bridge constructed parallel to the older span, and the third bridge opened to traffic on October 9, 1939; with demolition of the second bridge starting on the same day and continuing through to November 26.
Now, while upon originally finding these tickets on eBay; I did not think they were associated with the Port Jervis "Barrett Bridge" because of the single T in the name printed on the ticket. But upon referening the name W. L. Cuddeback, it would turn out that it was. William L. Cuddeback was a Colonel in the War of 1812, and was a prominent figure in this area of New York State; and of which the village of Cuddebackville is named after.
However actual construction of the bridge would not begin until late 1802, when a group of the prominent residents of Waterford and Lansingburgh proposed the formation of the Union Bridge Company to build a toll bridge at the site. The bridge was designed by Theodore Cooper utilizing a truss design of his creation, which would come to be patented.
This bridge was also unique in the fact that is was a multi-span covered bridge, and quite the length" 176 feet and accomodating two 11 foot wide roadways.
The tolls charged for crossing the bridge included $0.30 for every four wheel pleasure carriage, drawn by four horses, $0.125 for every wagon and two horses, and $0.02 for every foot passenger. The cost to build the bridge was only $50,000. The bridge opened on December 3, 1804 to major celebrations and was attended by the Governor of New York among many other state and local dignitaries.
Horse drawn trolley cars utilized the bridge for many years, paying a yearly fee of $750 in the 1860s which eventually rose to $2,000 per year. Electric trolley cars began to use the bridge in 1889, and heavier Hudson Valley interurban trolley cars weighing over 25 tons started to use the bridge around 1900.
According to an article in a local newspaper in 1901,
"Partly on account of the deterioration in the structure but largely to provide for the increased load of large interurban trolley cars. Extensive repairs, costing $28,000, were made to the bridge. Additional 4 x 7-inch strips were bolted to the tops of the stiffener arches and intermediate rod hangers were put in to support additional floor beams.” Apparently 7 tiers of 4 x 8-inch strips were added to the two center spans and four tiers of the same size added to the shorter shore arches. The top chord bracing and roof structure was modified greatly to provide the necessary height for the trolley cars. The rebuilding was by Palmer C. Ricketts and Joseph Lawson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute."
This bridge lasted until July 10, 1909 when at such time it was destroyed by fire. Motorman Walter Wright of the United Traction Company was crossing the bridge when he "looked downward and saw a spiteful flame leaping from possible faulty insulation in the flooring. Within a very short span of time, Soon the long-covered bridge, acting as an horizontal chimney, was blazing furiously." This was followed by the separation of a gas main mounted to the bridge and, within a period of only 35 minutes, three of the four spans had collapsed into the river.
The Troy Budget reported the “blazing bridge was a spectacle worth going miles to see." At this juncture, it would be replaced with a steel bridge utilizing the original masonry piers. The in-depth history of this bridge may be read here: structuremag.org
The Troy & West Troy Bridge Company, was founded 1872 and constructed a multispan Whipple through truss bridge with center swing span to allow maritime traffic to navigate the Hudson River. This bridge was better known as the Congress Street Bridge and would see use through 1913, at which time it was replaced.
Cohoes & Lansingburgh Bridge Company
We know the Cohoes & Lansingburgh Bridge opened in 1880, and the Cohoes & Lansingburgh Bridge, the Union Bridge, and the
Troy & West Troy Bridge were all owned by the same company. But there does not seem to be an image of
it through open source.
Referencing Google Books, the following was acquired by the State of New York in 1913. On March 4, 1920 the bridge burned, a temporary foot crossing erected until the bridge could be reconstructed. From this point the bridgehunter website begins with the history of the second span opening in 1922 as the first bridge for this location, but apparently that website now needs to be amended / corrected..
Troy and West Troy Bridge Company
New York State Department of Transportation - Parkways
As with Long Island, a network of parkways were constructed throughout Westchester County. These parkways comprised of the Sprain Brook, Bronx River, Saw Mill River & Hutchinson River Parkways, and the Cross Cross County Parkway and the Cross Westchester Expressway.
As far as is known, only the Saw Mill River Parkway and Hutchinson River Parkway implemented toll collection and it is these two parkway that will be addressed here.
The Saw Mill River Parkway
First proposed in 1924 by the Westchester County Parks Commission, the Saw Mill River Parkway was to have aesthetic design features similar to that of the nearby Bronx River Parkway. The first segment of the parkway, a bypass in Yonkers was opened to traffic in 1926. The next section of Saw Mill River Parkway that was to open, was from from Tuckahoe Road in Yonkers to Ashford Avenue in Dobbs Ferry, and was completed in September 1929, with a further four mile segment between Dobbs Ferry and Tarrytown Road opening in 1930.
There is conflicting information as to when the toll booths were erected and toll collection implemented on the Saw Mill River Parkway. The New York Times article below states 1947, but the NYC Road website (www.nycroads.com) states 1936. But it is known the toll booths were located between Exits 3 (McLean Avenue) and Exit 4 (Cross County Parkway).
The Hutchinson River Parkway - "The Hutch"
Construction of the Hutchinson River Parkway begin in 1924 with the first portion opening to traffic being a two mile segment completed in 1927. By October 1928, eleven more miles were completed, from Boston Post Road in Pelham Manor to Westchester Avenue in White Plains.
The original rustic design of the parkway began to change when in 1936 when Robert Moses decided to build additional parkways in the region, with a northward extension of the Hutchinson River Parkway from White Plains to King Street in Rye Brook (on the Connecticut state line) was completed in 1937 and a southward extension from Pelham Manor to Pelham Bay Park opened in December 1937.
In 1941, another extension connecting the southern end of the Hutchinson River Parkway to the Whitestone Bridge was opened to traffic. It is here that toll booths were placed across all lanes between Exits 7 (Boston Post Road / US Route 1) and Exit 8 (Sandford Boulevard / Colonial Avenue) in Pelham Manor.
Initially, the toll collected at the Pelham Manor Toll Booths was 10 cents (as was the Saw Mill River Parkways toll), but drivers learned they could circumvent the toll on the Hutch by driving through the Town of Pelham. At first, this was not an immediate issue;, but in 1958 the toll was raised to 25 cents.
Now with ever increasing amounts of privately owned automobiles and those automobiles being used for commuting, the traffic circumventing the tolls had become a serious enough issue to be addressed by the town of Pelham Manor.
Following the toll increase, more cars than ever began leaving the Parkway before reaching the tolls and made their way onto the streets of the town of Pelham Manor to avoid paying the toll. This problem was especially severe during rush hour periods.
With increasing amounts of parkway vehicles now clogging the town streets and thereby increasing the hazard to pedestrians and school children, not to mention the increased wear and tear of the road surface; the town changed its traffic patterns by making one way streets and prohibiting turns at key intersections to discourage parkway traffic from using town streets. Naturally, local residents and businesses did not like having their routines altered and this was not very popular solution. But this is the way it stayed and traffic for the most part migrated back to the parkway.
In 1979, an agreement was reached to transfer operational
and maintenance jurisdiction of the Saw Mill River and Hutchinson
Parkways (as well as the other non-tolled parkways in Westchester
County) from the East Hudson Parkway Authority to the New York State
Transportation Authority beginning on November 1. Following this date,
the East Hudson Parkway Authority was disbanded. Also as part of this
agreement, the toll booths were slated for removal. But not so fast!
According to a New York Times article, these two toll plazas on
the Hutchinson and Saw Mill River Parkways generated $11 million
annually. This money was used for road maintenance, the salaries for
those administration officials and toll collectors, as well as a
special detachment of law enforcement who patrolled the Parkways. New
York State officials objected at the cost of paying for maintenance and
police without the revenue stream from the tolls. The battle over
whether to close the toll booths waged for decades, and the motorists
New York Times digital archives
The last toll to be collected on the Hutchinson River Parkway was received just before midnight on October 31, 1994. The toll booths were removed a month later:
It is not currently known if the East Hudson Parkway Authority issued either tokens or scrip. No records of such have been located nor any examples known to exist. But receipts from paying the tolls are known to have survived as evidenced below.
The Hutchinson River Parkway receipt seen below is dated July 22, 1974 is printed on slips of plain white paper measuring 2 13/16" x 4 7/8". These carry the very faded insignia of a government agency at top, but I can only discern "AUTH." and the year 1960. This is the year the East Hudson Parkway Authority was organized, so it believed that is their insignia.
The second receipt is unusual as the slip of paper is punched with the toll information. Usually this type of perforation is seen as a VOID or SPECIMEN cancellation for stamps, currency or stock and bond certificates.
As stated above, on November 1, 1979, the East Hudson Parkway Authority was
dissolved after the New York State Department of Transportation took jurisdiction of the Parkway's.
The Atlantic Beach Bridge is a bascule drawbridge and approaches, carrying NY Route 878 and connects the Town of Lawrence and Atlantic Beach (both Nassau County), New York. The span passes over the west end of Reynolds Channel. This bridge also provides access to the Rockaway Peninsula via Seagirt Boulevard.
The original span opened to traffic on June 29, 1927, and only had a vertical clearance of only 13 feet. The Atlantic Beach Bridge reduced travel time to Atlantic Beach by 30 minutes.
The original corporation that undertook the construction and operation of the Atlantic Beach Bridge was aptly named the Atlantic Beach Bridge Corporation.
In 1945, the New York State Legislature created the Nassau County Bridge Authority to operate and maintain the span. This essentially enabled to state to control the operation; and by proxy, allowed Robert Moses to make "suggestions" for improvements.
On October 14, 1950, Governor Thomas E. Dewey drove the first pile for the new Atlantic Beach Bridge. To accommodate the new six-lane span, Nassau County and New York City spent $2,500,000 dollars to purchase the property for the rights of way for the approach roads.
The new Atlantic Beach Bridge was designed by Hardesty & Hanover and opened to traffic on May 10, 1952, at a cost of $9,500,000 dollars. Soon after the new span opened, the old bridge was razed. The new span is 1,173 feet long with a 33 foot vertical clearance for marine traffic.
Typically, the toll is $2.00 for vehicles under 5 tons and collected in each direction as of January 1, 2007. Vehicles over 5 tons are $2.00 per axle. The Atlantic Beach Bridge is one of the few crossings in the state of New York that does not accept E-ZPass. For commutation rates for Nassau County residents is $130.00 and a decal is affixed to the vehicle.Due to the COVID-19 pandemic spread in New York State, toll collection was temporarily suspended in mid-March 2020. Toll collection was reinstated at the beginning of June 2020.
The use of this next issue is somewhat unclear. Not in who issued it, but where it was used. To the best of my research, there is only one bus route in Nassau County that went over a toll bridge: The present "N33" route over the Atlantic Beach Bridge.
The Atwood Coffee catalog attributes the issue to Hewlett, NY (in Long Island) and research shows this was the location of the corporate office of Nassau Bus Company, Inc.
Nassau Bus Lines was a private surface transit (bus) company that operated in Nassau County, Long Island. Unlike New York City which has consolidated all of the separate transit operators: subway / elevated routes (rapid transit) streetcar and bus (surface transit) under one operating entity in 1940; transit providers operating in Nassau and Suffolk County, operated under their individual corporate identities right up until 1980's with some into the 2000's.
Information from "BusTalk" (an online forum for transit aficionados); Nassau Bus Lines Inc., was a small operator based in Hewlett, Long Island. This company had the little known distinction of being one of the first motorized passenger carriers in the New York Metropolitan area.
Their buses plied Nassau County's first bus routes on the south shore, and were the only two routes the company ever had. Service began in 1912 with service between Lynbrook and Far Rockaway via the 'Five Towns' and; upon the opening of the first Atlantic Beach Bridge in 1927, the company obtained permits to operate a bus line between Long Beach and Far Rockaway via Atlantic Beach.
There were several attempts by competitor bus lines that were looking to expand throughout the following decades by acquiring the two franchises of Nassau Bus; but they remained in operation until Schenck Transportation "made them an offer they couldn't refuse" in the early sixties.
Eventually, most if not all of the private bus companies operating in Nassau County eventually became part of the quasi-governmental transit agency Metropolitan Suburban Bus Authority (which was an operating division owned by the parent organization Metropolitan Transportation Authority; of which operates the subway & bus lines of New York City as well as Long island Railroads and Metro-North Commuter Railway).
The MTA ceased using the MSBA name in 1995 and at that time took the name "Nassau Inter-County Express". While it remains operating under this name, operations were contracted to private operators beginning December 2011 and the current operator is Transdev - a multi-national transit operating company.
Returning to the token issue, it is my belief this token was used by buses of the Nassau Bus Company to cross the Atlantic Beach Bridge. The question remains as to why the Nassau County Bridge Authority did not commission or issue the tokens. Until further information is located disproving my postulation, the issue will remain in this chapter.
The Long Island Motor Parkway, also known as the Vanderbilt Parkway, Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, or Motor Parkway, was a roadway on Long Island, NY. It was the first roadway designed for automobile use only. This parkway was privately built by William Kissam Vanderbilt II (grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt - of steamboat & New York Central Railroad fame) with grade separated overpasses and bridges to remove most intersections.
Construction began in June 1908. With its banked turns, guard rails, reinforced concrete roadbed, and controlled access, was the first limited-access roadway in the world, much less the United States. By October 10, 1908; the first portion, 10 miles long; had opened as far as modern Bethpage.
The road was originally planned to stretch for 70 miles in and out of New York City to as far as Riverhead, in Suffolk County. Only 45 miles of highway: from Queens in New York City to Lake Ronkonkoma, were actually constructed however, and at a cost of $6 million.
The roads intent was twofold: everyday auto traffic but to also host auto racing (William Vanderbilt was an avid motor racing enthusiast). Races were held in 1908 and on the full road in 1909 and 1910. Unfortunately however, an accident during the 1910 Vanderbilt Cup, which killed two riding mechanics with additional injured persons. This caused the New York Legislature to ban auto racing except on race tracks, ending the Motor Highway's career as a racing road.
By 1911, the road had been extended as far east to Lake Ronkonkoma. Its western stretch was also extended from Great Neck to what is now Fresh Meadows. Despite it's wealthy backing by a Vanderbilt, the Long Island Motor Parkway faced closure due to unpaid back taxes.
William Vanderbilt appealed to Robert Moses to incorporate the Long Island Motor Parkway into Moses' new parkway system being built on Long Island. Moses rejected the request. The Long Island Motor Parkway could not compete with the public roads, even after the toll was reduced to 40 cents, just before it closed. Ironically, Moses gained control of Vanderbilt’s pioneering road for the sum of back taxes of about $80,000 which the State of New York paid, so in short Moses could build his system.
Parts of the parkway survive today, used as sections of other roadways, a utility line corridor or as a bicycle trail. But for the most part it has been obliterated by development.
When the Long Island Motor Parkway first opened in 1908, the toll was set at $2. In 1912, it was reduced to $1.50. The toll was further reduced to $1 in 1917, and in 1937 lowered to .50 cents and finally to .40 cents in 1938 Just before closure.
While I do not own the following pieces, I felt them interesting and pertinent enough to include here. There appear to be two types: a one way / roundtrip ticket or a day license, which included the privilege to exit and re-enter. The right edge appears to have perforated, so either a stub was attached or these licenses were printed in book form and detached when sold. It was seen for sale on eBay in September 2020.
In 1953, the JBSPA expanded its provenance and undertook reconstruction of the Southern State Parkway.
While the Meadowbrook and Wantagh State Parkways led to Jones Beach, you could drive almost the entire stretch from the north shore of Long Island to the south shore without paying a toll, until actually arriving at Jones Beach. To access Jones Beach, south of the toll barriers, you paid a toll. Whether we wish to consider this toll a state park / beach access fee or an actual road toll remains to be hashed out. The Loop Parkway was actually a short connector causeway connecting Long Beach with Jones Beach and history has recorded this was a one lane toll booth to continue to Jones Beach. If you chose to go north on the Meadowlands, it was free..
But, being that you can drive the remainder of the parkways, without actually visiting the beach is why is they are included here. Only the Southern State Parkway collected a toll to use the parkway, in either direction, and in consideration for the privilege of using said parkway for entering or exiting the New York City borough of Queens with Nassau County.
Forty years later, the tolls were still in place and on January 1, 1975, and with only two weeks notice; the JBSPA raised the toll on the Southern State Parkway from 10 cents to 25 cents, while the Loop Parkway retained its 25 cent toll. This change faced immediate criticism from the New York State Legislature as well as vociferous protests from residents; and the Democratic members of the Legislature tried to rescind the toll hike.
Robert Moses still retained a great deal of influence however; as in an agreement he had entered with the State of New York, he ensured that only his authority could choose when to raise and rollback tolls. However, this agreement never prohibited the State of New York from buying out the bonds the JBSPA had issued, and thus the State took over the roads maintained by the Jones Beach Parkway Authority by purchasing those bonds.
Governor Hugh Carey had yet to craft the $12 billion state budget for 1978, and he proposed a deal to forgo the $24 million debt that the JBSPA had accumulated as well as eliminate the toll on the Loop Parkway and Southern State Parkway by taking over the parkways.
After the governor and his departments decided that the state could do without the annual $3.8 million dollars that the 25 cent toll would produce, (much as they had with the East Hudson Parkway Authority) a bill permitting the State of New York to take over the Jone Beach State Parkway Authority roads was passed in legislature on March 31, 1978.
Naturally this ignited a back and forth of legal filings and appearance before the court. But in the end, the State of New York prevailed and so; with the goal for the abolishment of the tolls, purchased the Jones Beach State Parkway Authority, and operation of the parkways was assigned to the New York State Department of Transportation.
Finally, on July 1, 1978 and just one year after the NYSDOT took over, the tollbooths were removed and the abolition of tolls collected on the Southern State Parkway came after a twenty year battle by locals for their removal.
The toll barrier stood for only a little while in Valley Stream before it was razed. A New York State Police barracks as a rest area were built to the sides of the parkway.
Ironically, the ticket booths on the Meadowbrook and Wantagh State Parkways for Jones Beach remained unused, but were not razed until April 2019.
With this unique item arriving on February 5, 2021; we learn that the Jones Beach State Parkway Authority issued toll tickets / scrip. It is a book of 250 tickets, good for 1 year for the Point Lookout to Freeport Route Only. Referencing the inside front cover; this specifies use for the Loop Parkway and Meadowbrook Parkway only.
Unfortunately, the purchase price of this book is not marked. However, the toll was .25 and when multiplied by 250 tickets equates to a $62.50 value, and it is stated on the inside cover a quantity discount was offered for advance purchase for the book, but not refundable for unused tickets.
The map below reflects the dual tolling structure of the New York State Thruway prior to November 13, 2020; on which date the entire Thruway transitioned to the open tolling method.
The "main drag" of New York State is undoubtedly the New York State Thruway, also known as Interstate 87 from Yonkers to Albany and Interstate 90 from Albany to Buffalo. This well maintained thoroughfare connects most of New York's major cities: New York City, Newburgh, Kingston, Albany, Schenectady, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo. This section is known as the "Main Line".
The first section of the Thruway to open to traffic was a 115 mile segment from Lowell (a little south of Rome and west of Utica) to Rochester which opened on June 24, 1954. By December 23, 1960, all 559 miles of the original Thruway system were open.
Spurs also connect the Thruway to
The Cross Westchester Expressway and a portion of Interstate 84 were added to the Thruway system in 1991. All told, the New York State Thruway now encompasses 570 miles. It also carries the name Governor Thomas E. Dewey Thruway; after the renowned prosecutor, Manhattan District Attorney, and Forty-seventh Governor of New York State.
Open and Closed Tolling Structure
A unique facet of the New York State Thruway, is that it once utilized both open and closed tolling methods:
Open tolling is defined as the usage of fixed barriers at strategically placed locations, but a motorist may enter and leave the road through ungated entries and exits. This allows some motorists to use the road without actually paying a toll, if they enter after and exit before the fixed barriers.
Closed tolling requires the issuance of a entry ticket upon accessing the highway; and upon exiting, a predetermined fare based on mileage is collected. In the era of E-ZPass usage, the E-ZPass logged your entry and exit, and deducted the appropriate amount from the existing balance on your account.
However, as of November 13, 2020; The New York State Thruway transitioned to a completely open tolling structure with cash payment replaced entirely by electronic tolling, (that being both E-ZPass and Tolls-By-Mail).
Open Tolling Portion
The southern portion of the Thruway which begins / ends at the county line separating the Bronx (City of New York) / and Yonkers (Westchester County) and Woodbury - Harriman Toll Barrier (Orange County) is limited access, but this section is "open tolling" with fixed rate toll barriers at Yonkers and Spring Valley on the "main line", and New Rochelle on the New England Section, therefore it is possible to use portions of the Thruway without paying any tolls on this segment and in an freeway fashion.
Continuing north after the Yonkers toll, you encounter the Tappan Zee Bridge crossing over the Hudson River. While originally there was a toll for northbound / westbound traffic, this was abolished in 1970 and the toll doubled for southbound / eastbound traffic.
After crossing the Hudson River, the next toll barrier encountered was Spring Valley, at around Exit 14. In 1974, exact change lanes for passenger cars only were added to the barrier at Spring Valley to speed up toll payment process. In 1997, passenger cars were no longer require to pay the toll at the Spring Valley Barrier, however all other vehicle classes still have to pay their respective tolls.
Closed Tolling Portion - (abolished November 13, 2020)
Continuing north to Harriman, you encounter the Woodbury - Harriman Toll Barrier. It is here you enter the "closed" ticketed portion of the Thruway. No toll is collected northbound at this point, but a toll collector issued you an entry ticket based on your vehicle class. Later, passenger cars could use "car only - no trailer" lanes and a machine spat out your ticket. However, all commercial vehicles regardless of axle or height needed to stop at one of several manned lanes and receive an entry ticket based on their vehicle class
From this point at Woodbury - Harriman / Exit 16, (or traveling east from Ripley, NY) your toll is calculated for the type of vehicle you were driving and the exit in which you left the Thruway at. To this day, long after I have moved out of New York State and long after the tolls have been raised; I remember the toll amount from Woodbury to Kingston - Exit 19: $1.90. Two singles to the collectors at Kingston and a dime change returned to me. That was until I enrolled in E-ZPass!
As announced on April 17, 1954; the toll schedule adopted for use on the closed tolling (entry ticket) portion of the Thruway (Woodbury / Harriman, NY to Ripley, NY - PA border) was as follows. Subsequent raises in the toll schedule as mentioned in New York Times digital archives follow.
Entry tickets are stamped for entry, lane, time and date, number of axles or vehicle class, the collector number / i.d. and an individual card number. Normally, when you arrived at your destination exit, you must turn in your entry card and the appropriate toll amount. If you actually lost the ticket (by it blowing out the window or falling down into the the scuzzy worm hole under everyones seat to magically reappear years later) or whether you actually kept the ticket as a momento and claiming you "lost it", the motorist is charged the highest toll shown, which can amount to hefty price nowadays. As such, the entry cards are more difficult to acquire and collect.
Another variety of ticket is the breakdown ticket which is actually more of an exit ticket. As the entry tickets are stamped with the time you entered the Thruway; you were alloted so much time to exit. If your vehicle broke down while on the Thruway, your entry card time "expired". Research reveals the Thruway had a regulation which established a maximum time frame that a person could be within the Thruway System upon receiving a toll ticket. If you exceeded that time, you were then assessed an additional fee or fine. The 'breakdown ticket' was used to waive this additional fee or fine in situations where, due to mechanical problems, you ended up exceeding that time limit. But you still had to turn in your entry ticket. I received mine upon request from a friendly toll collector.
In my collection, I have the following booklet: New York State Thruway - Toll Schedules and Traffic Rules and Regulations. While undated, it is believed to be circa 1954. In it, we learn that commutation tickets were indeed issued for the "Hudson River Bridge" which we came to call the Tappan Zee Bridge; as well as the Grand Island Bridges.
collection of Philip M. Goldstein
The New York State Thruway changed their method of toll structure in 2009 (?) from a basic vehicle class structure to a structure that further defined low (under 7' 6") or high (over 7' 6") vehicles. Meaning, a passenger car of 2 axles (2L) pays a lower rate than say an extended height delivery van of two axles (2H). A passenger car towing a low open trailer (Class 4L) while a 2 axle box truck towing a box trailer (Class 4H). Compounded with the height classification is the number of axles.
This new toll schedule also incorporated Peak and Off Peak tolls, of which the Off Peak tolls were significantly discounted. This was to encourage travel during off peak times.
As a result of the Coronavirus (SARS-CoVid 19) epidemic of 2020, toll collection ceased beginning March 22 until June 3 to create appropriate social distancing for cash collection. While cash transactions were suspended, collectors were on duty at some locations to record license plate numbers for billing purposes. Cash toll collection resumed at 11:59pm on June 3.
The current (as of 10/19/2020) toll structure is as follows:
. Currently, proposals are under review for toll increases for the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo - Tappan Zee Bridge as well at the reminder of the Thruway; of which they may be reviewed here:
Through this booklet above as well as continued research, we also know the Thruway offered an annual permit for unlimited use. These permits were in the form of embossed tin plates that were affixed below the regular state issued license plate. The purchase of this plate shown below, cost $20 in 1958; and allowed passenger cars, suburbans and motorcycles unlimited use of the Thruway for one year.
In 1959, the cost of the annual pass was raised to $40. As the years marched on, and with each subsequent toll hike, this unlimited rate increased. The last year of this unlimited permit is understood to have been issued in 1988.
Tolls By Mail
A further advance in toll collection began with the institution of Tolls By Mail. This system, which uses pairs of high speed digital cameras mounted on a pair of overhead gantries. Your vehicle, which trips a sensor, activates the cameras (one frontwards facing for the back license plate and one rearward facing for the front license plate); which takes an image of the license plates of the vehicle going though the barrier at highway speed. As some states only require a rear plate to be affixed to a vehicle, the rearward facing camera is deemed necessary to ensure fairness for all highway users and to prohibit toll evaders.
The license plate is then cross referenced with Department of Motor Vehicles records and a bill generated and mailed to the vehicles' registration address. After the system was developed and bugs worked out, it is obvious that the cost of a stamp is significantly lower than the annual salary, cost of medical benefits and retirement plan of the toll collectors.
No toll booths, no reduced speed, no congestion and no fumbling for change.
Two Toll Bridges
In addition to the tolling system, the New York Thruway operates two bridges with tolls collected to pass over them, over and above those tolls collected of the closed tolling system. Meaning, there is an additional toll to be paid for crossing these two spans, while all other bridges within the New York State Thruway system are included in the rate between entry and exit of the Thruway.
The first and the possibly most recognizable bridge on the New York State Thruway was/is the Tappan Zee Bridge.
The bridge with its approaches, is the longest bridge in New York State. The total length of the bridge approached 16,013 feet or 3.0328 miles. The main span was a steel cantilever truss with truss support towers. The cantilever span was 1,212 feet in length, and provided a maximum clearance of 138 feet over the water. To each side of the main span was the approach ramps which were deck truss bridges. The causeway leading up to the bridge was concrete & steel.
Construction of the original Tappan Zee Bridge, commenced in 1952 and ran through 1955, and opened to traffic December 14, 1955. Design and construction was started during the Korean Conflict, and several engineering reports stated that the span was built to the bare minimum with little to no safety redundancies and with the original span having a 50 year service life. Also as a result of the war, construction incurred some delays due to material shortages. Adding to this, was the increasing weight of commercial vehicles over the decades the bridge was in service.
From 1955 through August 11, 1970, tolls were collected from both directions to cross the Tappan Zee Bridge, with the toll barrier on the Tarrytown side. The northbound / westbound toll was eliminated on August 12, 1970, on the same date all the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey crossings eliminated their westbound tolls as well. As result, the toll was doubled from .50 cents to $1.00 for the southbound / eastbound traffic across the Tappan Zee Bridge.
As constructed it had 3 lanes northbound and 3 lanes southbound with a center island and steel grating. This island was removed in 1986 and a seventh "middle" lane was built and opened in July 1987. In 1993, a vehicle called a Barrier Transfer Machine was purchased, which moves a segmented concrete barrier from one side of the lane to the other. Garages were constructed in the median on either side of the bridge to house the BTM during non-use.
This movable divider, also called a "zipper"; allowed the middle lane to be opened depending on the rush hour traffic direction. For the Tappan Zee Bridge this means in the morning: four lanes southbound, and in the afternoon, the barrier was slid to the other side of the lane allowing the evening rush hour to utilize the fourth lane. By the next morning, the barrier would be moved back to the other side of the lane for the morning rush hour and with the process repeating itself for the Monday - Friday commute.
A very interesting article with a video of this machine in operation can be read here: Tappan Zee Bridge Barrier Machine - LoHud / USA Today
In 1994, the Tappan Zee Bridge was accorded the honor of being named the "Malcolm Wilson Bridge", to honor the 20th anniversary of his leaving the governor's office in December 1974. In all my years of being a resident until moving out of New York State in 2017, I do not recall this name ever being used either in the news, in literature on the digital thruway signage or even on the CB!
The second Tappan Zee Bridges
With the first Tappan Zee Bridge approaching the end of its service life, discussion of the replacement commenced in the late 1990's. No matter how you looked at it, the bridge was way past its service life by 2005. After the typical feasibility studies and cost analyses, community feedback and wrangling; and sticker shock over the cost of construction; a pair of cable stayed concrete & steel spans were designed and approved just to the north of the old span.
With construction commencing in 2013, and completion 4 years later, the new Tappan Zee Bridges became one of the widest cable-stayed bridges in the world, having a combined width across both decks of 183 feet. Some components of the bridge were pre-assembled on barges at several work yards along the Hudson River and then floated to the construction location, where they were then hoisted into place. The design and construction methods used are said to allow the bridge to last at least 100 years. The bridge is actually comprised of two spans and two approach causeways: each carrying four lanes and two full width breakdown lanes on each side of the roadway (for a total of six 12 foot wide lanes), and in each direction.
The first span to open to traffic was the northern span (the present westbound/northbound flow of traffic) and opened on August 26, 2017. This span would be used bi-directionally (four lanes in each direction - no breakdown or shoulder lanes) until the second span was ready for service. This took place on September 11, 2018, and this was designated for eastbound / southbound traffic flow, and is the southerly of the two spans.
Following the opening of the "new" twin span Tappan Zee Bridge in 2017, the new bridge(s) were named the "Mario M. Cuomo Bridge", after a former Democratic governor of New York who held office from 1983 through 1994. His son, Andrew Cuomo, followed in his fathers footsteps and of whom is presently the Governor of New York, and has held that office since 2011. During this time that the bridge was constructed, he put forth his fathers name for the bridge. This ignited controversy by both the opposing Republican political members who opposed Mario Cuomo's governorship, as well as traditionalists who wished Malcolm Wilson's name be retained. After much back and forth, in the end a compromise was reached: the bridge would be called the Mario M. Cuomo - Tappan Zee Bridge.
Also taking place as a result of the new construction, is the relocation of the collection toll point for the bridge. While the toll booths had been located at the east end of the bridge in Tarrytown, the E-ZPass scanners and the "Tolls By Mail" camera gantry have been located at the west end of the bridge in Nyack, and the toll booths razed. Tolls are still collected for southbound / eastbound traffic flow only.
The following charts show the tolls for the Tappan Zee Bridge from opening to the present, but historical scheduling is still being compiled. Please bear in mind, these tolls for the bridge are in addition to the toll collected for use of the Thruway.
In the above pamphlet, it mentions commutation tickets for the "Hudson River Bridge" (better known as the Tappan Zee Bridge). According to an article in the New Times digital archives, Commutation Ticket Books were only handled by mail after July 1, 1970, but you could drop off an order form with the toll collector.
With kudos to George Cuhaj, we now know what those later commutation issue looks like, or least one third of it! With the receipt, we know the it was a $20.00 - 20 trip or $1.00 per trip. This should correspond with the $2.00 or 2.50 regular toll, and it was good for 35 days.
This bridge, as of March 30, 2018; has implemented cashless tolling. Those drivers without E-ZPass receive a bill by mail via photo identity of their license plate.
Crossing the Hudson River in conveniently placed locations are various bridges, and usually connecting two cities where ferries once plied their cross river transportation service. These ferries and bridges fall under the scope of the New York State Bridge Authority.
I had long since known that scrip was issued by the New York State Bridge Authority, as I had acquired the following piece about 15 years ago.
Until now, I did not have an approximation of its age. Upon creating this particular chapter of the website, I was at least able to determine it was issued before 1963, when the Newburgh Beacon Bridge opened, and as it is not listed on the scrip. However the Kingston Rhinecliff Bridge is listed and that opened in 1957. Upon review of the historical toll tariff tables as published on the NYSBA website, I believe this toll scrip denomination of $1.00 was issued to vehicles larger than passenger automobiles, as their toll rate for the period after 1945 for passenger cars was 50 cents.
Scrip, tickets and receipts in my collection reflect the following tolls: .50, $1.00, $1.25, $1.50. The cash toll is now $1.75, with E-ZPass accepted and discounted.
In 1970, all the bridges were converted to one way tolling (collected eastbound only) and the toll doubled (as they had been for all Hudson River Bridges, even those in New York City and under the jurisdiction of the Port of New York Authority / Port of New York and New Jersey).
Another gem re-homed from the George Cuhaj collection (thanks George!) is this scrip ticket and booklet cover from 1979:
The Lake Champlain Bridge Commission had jurisdiction of two bridges in the Lake Champlain vicinity: one at the north end of the lake at the Canadian border, Rouses Point; the other towards the south end, being Lake Champlain Bridge.
Lake Champlain Bridge
The first Lake Champlain Bridge was a vehicular bridge traversing Lake Champlain between Crown Point, New York and Chimney Point / Addison, Vermont via NY State Route 185.
The first Champlain Bridge (also known as the Crown Point Bridge) opened to traffic in 1929 as a toll bridge; and was a 2,184-foot-long continuous truss bridge bridge that traversed Lake Champlain between Crown Point, New York and Chimney Point, Vermont. The bridge connected NY 185 in New York to VT 17 in Vermont. The half-mile, two-lane, bridge was jointly owned and maintained by the New York State Department of Transportation and the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
This bridge was closed due to safety concerns on October 16, 2009, and was taken down by explosive demolition on December 28, 2009. It was replaced by a new bridge which opened on November 7, 2011.
The new bridge was designed and constructed during an aggressive two-year schedule to minimize the social and economic impact of the original bridge's demolition.
Tolls upon opening were noted as:
Rouses Point Bridge
The Rouses Point Bridge opened in 1937 (its opening is announced on a 1936 brochure published by the Lake Champlain Bridge Commission). It connects Rouses Point, New York with Alburg, Vermont via US 2.
The first Rouses Point Bridge was a Parker through truss structure, with a swing bridge center section for lake traffic transiting from the St. Lawrence River. It was built by the Lake Champlain Bridge Commission starting in 1937, with the opening to vehicular traffic on July 16, 1937.
The original Rouses Point Bridge was replaced by the current, multi-span concrete deck on concrete girder span and is over a mile in length. This bridge opened in May 1987 and tolls at this crossing as well as at the Lake Champlain Bridge were abolished in 1987.
According to a 1937 brochure, the tolls upon opening of the Rouses Point Bridge as well as the Lake Champlain Bridge were as follows:
The State of New York also carries with it the fortunate distinction of being located on an international border, that being with Canada. These crossings have a special importance as not only are they river crossings, but they are also gateways for international commerce.
Four international crossings exist between New York in the United States and Canada, and fortunately they are known to have issued tokens and / or scrip for toll payment.
The Cornwall - Massena International Bridge is an international crossing connecting New York State and the Province of Ontario, Canada. It now consists of two spans: the South Channel and the North Channel Bridges.
Designed by Hugh and Philip Louis Pratley, the South Channel Bridge was opened in 1958, and spans the St. Lawrence Seaway. The North Channel Bridge, which opened in 2014; connects the City of Cornwall to Cornwall Island.
The South Channel Bridge when first opened was a private bridge whose outstanding stock was then purchased by the Saint Lawrence Seaway Authority (Canada) and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (U.S.) in 1957. It became incorporated in Canada in 1962.
The bridges are jointly owned by the Federal Bridge Corporation (a Crown corporation of the Canadian Government) and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, which is an agency of the United States Department of Transportation. It is operated by the Seaway International Bridge Corporation, which became under the control of the Federal Bridge Corporation from the Saint Lawrence Seaway Authority in 1998.
The crossing is now known as the Seaway International Bridge, and of the numerous crossings between New York and Canada, this is one of the busiest, and averages approximately two million crossings a year. The current toll, as of April 2019 is as follows.
The North Channel Bridge was re-named the Three Nations Crossing in recognition of the three Native American Nations it connects: Canada, Akwasasne, and the U.S.A.It is known that this crossing employed the use of tokens for use at the toll booths. Research is pending on issues of Toll Scrip.
The Ogdensburg–Prescott International Bridge crosses the St. Lawrence Seaway and connects Ogdensburg, New York, USA with Johnstown, Ontario in Canada. The bridge is also known as the St. Lawrence Bridge and the Seaway Skyway.
It is a suspension bridge designed by Modjeski & Masters and of which was completed in 1960. It is comprised of 6 spans with a main span 1,150.8 feet, and with approaches it totals 1.5 miles in length.
The Ogdensburg–Prescott International Bridge allows for both passenger and commercial vehicles to cross the Canada - United States border; however neither bicyclists or nor pedestrians are permitted to cross this bridge. The bridge is a very popular border crossing for passenger vehicles due to its proximity to Ottawa, the capital of the Ontario Province.
As the bridge was designed for heavy loads and has a weight capacity of 105,000 pounds, the weight limit easily accommodates semi-trailer trucks of multiple axles, but as the bridge is not directly connected to to any American interstate highway, it does not see as much commercial traffic as the neighboring Thousand Islands Bridge to the southwest.
On the Canadian side, the bridge connects to Highway 16 and on the American side the bridge connects to New York State Route 812.The bridge is owned and operated by the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, which is a New York State public-benefit corporation.
A printed brochure located online and issued by the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority mentions truck scrip, but it is not dated and does not conform to the present toll schedule. However it does match the toll rates as filed in accordance with Codes Rules Regulations of New York, 21-5704.1, for the Ogdensburg International Bridge were as follows, effective July 12, 2006.
It is now understood that there was scrip issued for this bridge, but at the current time, its appearance is not known.
It is known that the printed scrip has been replaced with RFID "Commuter Cards", as seen below. Current tolls as per the Ogdensport Bridge & Port Authority website are as follows.
The Thousand Islands International Bridge (French: Pont des Mille-îles) is an American-maintained international bridge system over the Saint Lawrence River connecting northern New York in the United States with southeastern Ontario in Canada.
The suspension bridge was designed by Robinson and Steinman and constructed in 1937, with additions in 1959. The bridges span the Canada– United States border in the middle of the Thousand Islands region. All bridges in the system carry two lanes of traffic, one in each direction, with pedestrian sidewalks.
The Thousand Islands International Bridge system is a series of five bridges that span parts of the St. Lawrence River, ultimately connecting both banks. From south (US) to north (Canada):
The southern end of the bridge connects with Interstate 81 and the northern end of the bridge connects to Ontario Highway 401 via Highway 137. There is also an interchange with the Thousand Islands Parkway on the Ontario side.
The actual international border bridge crossing is a set of two parallel 90 foot long bridges between Wellesley Island in the United States and Hill Island in Canada.
The bridge system is administered by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, a New York State public benefit corporation, whose seven board members are appointed by the Jefferson County Board of Legislators. Four board members are US citizens and three are Canadian citizens.
Current tolls are paid by cash, by E-ZPass, or with a Commuter Discount Fare Trip Tag, which is good for either 16 trips for $20.00 or 72 trips for $32.00. The Bridge Authority has joined the multi-state E-ZPass consortium and introduced electronic toll collection in June 2019.
The Commutation Tickets seen below was for commuters on the United States side, commuting from Collins Landing, New York (US mainland) and Wellesley Island.
The Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (NFBC) was established by Joint Resolution of the 1938 U.S. Congressional Third Session. This resolution created the outline for the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission as it currently is constituted.
The Extra Provincial Corporations Act by the Province of Ontario, Canada; issues the operational license for the NFBC. As such, both Canada and the United States are equally represented on the NFBC by the bi-national appointment of an eight-member Board of Commissioners.
The NFBC was established to finance, construct and operate the three international bridges across the Niagara River connecting the Province of Ontario, Canada and the State of New York, United States. These bridges being (from north to south), the: Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, Whirlpool Rapids Bridge and the Rainbow Bridge.
The NFBC was initially established to finance, construct and operate the Rainbow Bridge. However following completion of that bridge and its subsequent operation, and considering the effectiveness and efficiency at which the Commission operated, its role was subsequently expanded.
Therefore, through amendments to the Joint Resolution in the U.S., and by the Rainbow Bridge Amendment Act of 1959 and the Queenston Bridge Act of 1959 in Canada; the NFBC’s powers and authority expanded. These enactments empowered the NFBC to assume responsibilities for the Whirlpool Rapids (Lower) and Lewiston-Queenston Bridges as well.
In the present day, in addition to owning and operating three international bridges, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission constructs and maintains facilities for Customs and Immigration functions on both the Canadian and United States sides of the international border. The NFBC is self-supportive, largely through user fees (tolls) and private-sector tenant leases; and the NFBC conducts international commercial financial transactions and issues federal (U.S.) tax-exempt bonds.
The Rainbow Bridge was designed by architect Richard (Su Min) Lee to replace the ice damaged Honeymoon Bridge. His design was used again for the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, approximately 6 miles downriver.
The Whirlpool Rapids Bridge was designed by civil engineer Leffert L. Buck, who had been hired to maintain the pre-existing Roebling Suspension Bridge across the Niagara Gorge. Buck settled for a bridge of the arch design. At that time of design, arch bridges had become the favored design railway bridges and were more cost-efficient than suspension type bridges. Beginning on April 9, 1896, the new bridge was built around and below the Suspension Bridge, replacing it a piece at a time. His plan allowed bridge traffic - railroad and pedestrian, to continue without disruption. By August 27, 1897, the last pieces of the Suspension Bridge were dismantled, leaving the Lower Steel Arch Bridge, later renamed the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge;in its stead.
Historical tolls for the three bridges are under research.
Brochures seen for the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge and dated 1939 and 1942; list a .25 cent toll for car & driver and .05 cents for each additional passenger. A toll receipt seen on eBay (and now part of my collection) which is dated July 30, 1952, lists .40 cents for automobile.
The following schedule was located in WestLaw, but unfortunately no date is given. Extrapolating the automobile rate, it should be the toll schedule effective June 17, 1991.
Current tolls are collected westbound (towards Canada) only and are as follows:
The Peace Bridge is an international bridge between Canada and the United States at the east end of Lake Erie at the source of the Niagara River, about 12 ½ miles upriver of Niagara Falls. It connects Buffalo, New York; in the United States to Fort Erie, Ontario; in Canada. It is operated and maintained by the bi-national Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority.
The building of the Peace Bridge was approved by the International Joint Commission on August 6, 1925 with Edward Lupfer serving as chief engineer. The bridge is a multi-span deck type truss and arch bridge totalling 5,800 feet in length.
Construction began in 1925 and was by spring of 1927 the bridge was completed. On March 13, 1927, Chief Engineer Lupfer drove the first automobile across the bridge; however the opening to the public took place on June 1, 1927.
The official opening ceremony was held two months later, on August 7, 1927; with about 100,000 people in attendance. The festivities were transmitted to the public via radio in the first international coast-to-coast broadcast.
The dignitaries who took part in the dedication ceremonies representing Canada and the Crown, were: HRH Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII), HRH Prince George, Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and Province of Ontario Premier Howard Ferguson.
Representing the United States and the State of New York were Vice President Charles Dawes, Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and New York Governor Alfred Smith.
When the bridge opened, Buffalo and Fort Erie each became the chief port of entry to their respective countries from the other. At the time, this was the only vehicular bridge on the Great Lakes from Niagara Falls to New York. The bridge remains one of North America's most important commercial ports, with four thousand trucks crossing it daily.
Historical Toll Rates are noted below. Information comes from a wide variety of sources, including but not limited to articles in the Buffalo Times, Democrat & Chronicle, Trucknews.com, as well as Buffalo & Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority fiscal doucuments located on the the internet.
The following article was located in the June 30th, 1993 issue of the Buffalo Times via their digital archives. We can take away several important facts from this article, and of which I have highlighted. I have also included several other articles which follow.
With the various documents I now had at my disposal, I was able to tabulate a rather comprehesive history of the toll schedule for the Buffalo & Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority. Unfortunately, gaps remain in the history that need to be filled in:
Once vehicles leave the customs plaza in Canada, they approach a smaller toll plaza to pay the toll for using the Peace Bridge. Payment for tolls are collected in either cash (US or Canadian), as well as Peace Bridge tokens. There are no toll booths on the US side and no tolls are collected from US bound vehicles, nor are tolls collected for pedestrians or cyclists.
After new toll facilities were installed on the Canadian side in 2005, the Peace Bridge became the first E-ZPass facility outside the United States. However, as witnessed by the historic and current toll schedules, the discount for using E-ZPass was discontinued in 2018; but E-ZPass was still accepted. The current toll is $3.75 USD or $5.00 CAD, paid westbound (to Canada) only.
However, if I understand correctly, with the announcement on October 2, 2020 of toll hikes scheduled to take place in December 2020 and March 2021, it appears a discount will once again be offered for E-ZPass users:
"Cars crossing the international span between Buffalo and Fort Erie, Ont., will be charged $4 (U.S.) beginning Dec. 1, 2020, up from $3.75, but only for those with E-ZPass transponders affixed to their windshields. Motorists still using cash will be charged $6 (U.S.) beginning Dec. 1, and $8 on March 1, 2021.
all text & images: © 2020, 2021 Philip M. Goldstein ~ www.nyctollscrip.info