A billion-dollar funding issue may lead to massive travel issues on the New York State Thruway.

A new report states that the New York State Thruway is facing a $1.2 billion funding gap "through 2031 to maintain its high levels of safety and service, maintain good infrastructure conditions, support operations, and maintain debt service coverage at appropriate levels."

Report: $1.2 Billion Funding Gap On New York State Thruway


The report is from TRIP, a national transportation research nonprofit based in Washington DC.

“The New York Thruway System is critical to the quality of life of New Yorkers,” TRIP’s executive director Dave Kearby said. “Ensuring that the extensive and aging New York Thruway System continues to provide reliable and safe access will require that an adequate level of investment is made in the system to improve its condition, safety and efficiency.”

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TRIP looked into the "condition, reliability, safety and funding needs of the New York State Thruway."

A New York State Thruway/I-87 road sign.
Jackie Corley, Townsquare Media of the Hudson Valley

From 2012 to 2019 trips on I-87 increased by 8 percent. That number dropped by 19 percent in 2020, due to the COVID pandemic, but travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels and officials believe it will increase by 9 percent over the next few years.

TRIP believes the current toll prices on the New York State Thruway are "well below" the rate of similar highways in the northeast.

"Projected Thruway revenues through 2031 are not anticipated to be sufficient to meet the systems’ rehabilitation needs. Through 2031 the Thruway Authority has a $1.2 billion funding gap in revenue needed to maintain its high levels of safety and service, maintain good infrastructure conditions, support Thruway operations, and maintain debt service coverage at appropriate levels," the report states.

TRIP believes the funding gap and projected increases in debt payments will lead to the deteriorated pavement and bridge conditions.

hole in the road

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The TRIP report, “The New York Thruway: The Empire State’s Main Street,” states that following improvements to pavement conditions (between 2017 and 2020) pavement condition have declined over the past few years and is expected to decline by 31 percent between 2022 and 2028.

"Significant increases in the cost of highway and bridge improvements could threaten the ability of the Thruway Authority to improve the condition, safety and reliability of the Thruway," the report adds.


Revenue from tolls on the Thruway is expected to increase by 36 percent from 2012 to 2031.

“It’s beneficial for a group like TRIP to make a data-based assessment of New York’s most important roadway, former NYS Thruway Authority executive director and currently a senior advisor with Brown & Weinraub Michael Fleischer said. “This review shows that the system is amongst the safest highways in the nation, but it requires continued and increased investments so it can continue to best serve its customers.

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The New York State Thruway Authority released the following statement following the report:

Today’s report by TRIP is another indication of how critical it is for the Thruway Authority to increase revenue, especially seeing we do not receive any dedicated federal, state, or local tax dollars to cover the costs of operating and maintaining the Thruway.
The fact of the matter is the average age of the Thruway’s 815 bridges is 55 years old. More than 85 of those bridges will need to be replaced within the next decade and the projected cost is roughly $800 million. Hundreds of more bridges will need to be addressed in the following decade. At the same time, the Thruway’s roadway base, most of which dates back to the 1950s, requires constant maintenance. The longer we wait, the more expensive all of this critical work becomes.

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