NYS Thruway vs I-86

The New York State Thruway [I-90 & I-87] is a toll road that runs from New York City north to Albany then west to Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo then proceeds southwesterly to Erie PA. I-86 is a NON-toll road that is maintained by the NYS Department of Transportation. I-86 runs northwest from a point north of New York City known as Harriman to Binghamton then west to Elmira, Corning, Hornell, ANGELICA, Olean, Salamanca, Jamestown and on to Erie, PA.

Traffic is often significantly less on I-86 than on I-90. I-90 is generally a flatter route with few curves while I-86 travels through the hills of the Southern Tier of New York State. I-90 is mostly rated for 65 MPH traffic except near some of the major cities. I-86 is rated for 65 MPH traffic from Erie, PA to Elmira but then it changes to sections of 55 MPH for about 10 miles. From there to Binghamton the speed is 65. East of Corning the road is still officially known as NYS Route 17. As sections are upgraded [a process that is very much underway at this time] then additional sections will become rated at 65 MPH and be known as I-86.

The biggest benefits of using I-86 over I-90 are the lack of tolls, less traffic and nicer scenery along the ride. The New York State Thruway raised the rate of the tolls on the Thruway as of May 1, 2005. The New York State Thruway raised their rates about 10% as of January 2008 and again in the summer of 2008. You can use the NYS Thruway's toll calculator to determine what rate you are likely to pay for your particular trip. The examples below are the rates as of December 2008.

Here are some examples of potential savings based on their calculator:

  Thruway
Distance
I-86
Distance
Difference by
using I-86
EZ-Pass
Permit

Car

Cash

Normal
Passenger
Cars

EZ-Pass

Semi-Trailer
Trucks
[Actual Cost Dependent
on Rig]

Cash

Semi-Trailer
Trucks
[Actual Cost Dependent
on Rig]
Erie to Binghamton via I-90 & I-81
[As recommended by MapQuest]
compared to I-86
 311 267 44 miles less &
No Tolls
$8.32 $8.75 $42.04 $44.25
Erie to Albany
I-90 compared to I-86 & I-88
377 395 18 miles more but
No Tolls
$14.02 $14.75 $71.11 $74.85
Erie to NYC [Harriman]
I-90 compared to I-86/NYS 17
451 395 56 miles less &
No Tolls
$17.96 $18.90 $91.01 $95.80

I-86 Exit 31Angelica Valley

Come visit us in Angelica at Exit 31 on I-86

Tourism Information is also available Monday - Friday 8 - 4 at the Crossroads Center just off Exit 30.

Sunset on I-86

Traffic Pattern Thruway

Traffic Pattern I-86/NYS 17

I-86 Guide from the Hornell Tribune

I-86 path shown through the green counties.

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Maintained by: ACDEP Services