Improved Thruway Guidance
This design is recommended for the Thruway system.
Many of the online mapping services refer to the New York State Thruway simply as that and neglect to include the proper Interstate number associated with a particular stretch of roadway. In addition, New York is planning to convert to distance based interchange numbering in the future (there is current legislation addressing this in the New York Senate). It is important to guide motorists along the Thruway in a consistent, easy to recognize way, especially in the Albany area where the Thruway moves from Interstate 87 to Interstate 90 or vice-versa.
Ideally Interstate 90 through Albany ("free 90") should be renumbered Interstate 687 (interchange numbering and milepost numbers would then be correct by National and State standards), and I-90 should be rerouted south along Interstate 87 to Exit 21A, where it heads east and connects to the existing Interstate 90. However, this is very unlikely to happen, so I recommend the following.
East-to-southbound traffic on the Thruway near Albany are guided pretty well from Interstate 90 to Interstate 87. While only one of three overhead signs have a Thruway trailblazer on them, there are ground mounted signs that guide the motorist if they want to stay on the Thruway. However, Thruway trailblazers should be added to ALL overhead signs so that the message is consistent. In addition, the NYSDOT installed overhead panels just east of the Exit 24 toll booths include the control city of "Boston", which is absolutely correct for Interstate 90. However, these panels are visible from the Thruway to motorists that are transitioning from Interstate 90 to Interstate 87 as guided by overhead panels indicating that they should stay on the Thruway to Exit 21A to reach the Mass Pike and Boston. This is a conflicting message that could be a safety hazard as motorists think they have to do an illegal U-turn and cut across the opposing side to exit at Exit 24 to reach Boston. The NYSDOT panels should be modified to change Boston to "Rennselaer" and/or "Troy".
On the other hand, there is no guidance for North-to-west bound traffic transitioning from Interstate 87 to Interstate 90 aside from "WEST 90 / Buffalo" on an overhead. This could be remedied by adding a Thruway trailblazer to the sign panels. I believe these sign panels are already slated for replacement, here's my suggested design.
Motorists unfamiliar with the area, especially those from downstate are likely to equate the "Thruway" and "Interstate 87" as one and the same. Therefore, without guidance to stay on the Thruway via Interstate 90, they may be prompted to exit at Exit 24 and continue on Interstate 87 north. For example, a motorist looking for Thruway Exit 31 may not know that they've left the Thruway system and end up at the Elizabethtown/Westport interchange off the Northway.
In addition to the enhancements to overhead guide panels, I also suggest the following ground mounted sign on the northbound approach to Exit 24.
While this sign appears to be quite wordy, I believe it conveys to the motorist what they need to do at the upcoming interchange to reach their intended destination. In addition, it allows the motorist to equate the Thruway trailblazer with the word "Thruway". This design could also be split into two separate guide panels that would be installed in succession.
In addition, I believe that supplementary signs should be installed to guide motorists to other prominent Upstate New York destinations at this interchange. Similar signs should be installed in the Buffalo area for eastbound traffic as the control city used is "Albany".