Sign Shop

NYSDOT maintained Interstates to Thruway Advance Guide Signs

Location: Throughout the state along the Thruway corridor.

Current Sign: Most signs indicate the interstate route number and "Thruway" or a Thruway trailblazer with no mention of where the Thruway actually goes.

Thruway Advance  Thruway Advance

One of my earliest roadgeek discoveries was when I was about six years old. As my family drove down Interstate 81 from our rural Oswego County home to Syracuse, we would pass by the exit for the Thruway. At the time, the exit was unnumbered. The signs for the exit simply said "(90) (Thruway Trailblazer) / Thruway / EXIT 1/2 MILE", with no mention of where the Thruway went. When Interstate 81 was completely rebuilt in this area in the early and mid 1980s, new signs went up designating the exit as Exit 25A, however, the new signs still didn't mention where the Thruway goes and that version of the signs left off the Thruway trailblazer.

I asked Region 3 about this eight or nine years ago and basically it boiled down to the fact that the Thruway was the destination and the control cities for the Thruway appeared after you passed through the toll booths, which it generally does. I countered that this approach is the same as signing Interstate 81 from Interstate 481 simply as "I-81 NORTH / SOUTH" without giving the driver any indication of where the road goes, after all, the post interchange sign once they're on I-81 would tell them if they're headed to Binghamton or Watertown. It seemed to me that this approach didn't make sense.

With the advent of the online mapping services, many motorists are following pre-printed driving directions that would say something like "Take I-90 / NY Thruway WEST toward Buffalo." Wouldn't it be advantageous to treat the Thruway as the interstate that it is and include the control cities on the guide signs leading up to it?

On the latest sign projects, Region 3 has included the Albany-Buffalo control cities on their approach signs to the Interstate to Thruway interchanges. I'm hoping that the other affected regions in the state follow their lead.

The design on the left would appear on NY 5-8-12 in the Utica area as a motorist approaches the I-790/NY 49 interchange. Since there are so many touring route numbers assigned to roadways in this area, and in the interest of budgetary concerns, it doesn't really make sense to try to fit all this information onto overhead signs. It would simply be too much information for a driver to comprehend at freeway speeds. In this instance, I recommend secondary destination signs like the example above.

The design on the right would appear on NY Route 33 in the Buffalo area. Right now, the signs in the approach series are not consistent, which runs contrary to both the National MUTCD with NYS Supplement AND the NYSDOT MUTCD. This needs to be corrected. I have also included the recommended interchange number, based on the standard in the National MUTCD with NYS Supplement.