Interstate 690 forms a through pass route and urban loop south from the New York Thruway to Lakeland, the New York State Fairgrounds, Solvay and the city of Syracuse. The freeway continues northwest from I-90 as NY 690 to bypass the village of Baldwinsville, while the east end serves commuter traffic in the town of Dewitt.
Since replaced with an overpass, a temporary at-grade intersection joined I-690 with the State Fairgrounds north of Solvay. The access road for the fair grounds Orange Lot tied into the freeway within the three wye interchange for NY 695. 01/17/17
I-690 was one the few routes within the Interstate system with a traffic light (I-78 west of the Holland Tunnel in New Jersey is another). Serving the New York State Fair and the Lakeview Amphitheater, the signals were located at the west end of the State Fairgrounds Orange Lot. Operated by a state trooper, the lights were in place for a 12 day period during the annual New York State Fair.1
A $20 million proposal announced by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on January 23, 2017 included a new westbound entrance ramp to I-690 from the Fairgrounds’s Orange Lot. The addition resulted in the removal of the temporary traffic light, which at times caused two hour wait times. Other changes for the Orange Lot included paving and striping of a 65 acre section, expanding the vehicle capacity by 500 spaces to 7,500 overall, and adding E-ZPass parking lanes for faster payments.1
Substantially completed by October 31, 2018, funding by the $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Initiative paid for phase 1 of the State Fairgrounds project. Traffic patterns during the New York State Fair changed with the east entrance/exit to the Orange Lot converted to ingress only, and all egress movements shifted to the new on-ramp.1 The temporary traffic signal for the annual State Fair near Exit 6 returned for the 13 day event in 2019. It would not return in 2020 per Governor Andrew Cuomo (the State Fair was ultimately canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19).11
Completed on September 15, 2020, Phase 2 of the State Fair Access Improvement Project project added an eastbound entrance ramp to I-690 from the Orange Lot. Elevated across I-690, the ramp eliminated the temporary traffic light. The $11.18 million project also added a 10 foot wide pedestrian walkway along the new overpass.12
The New York State Assembly approved a bill in June 2017 allowing toll free commuting along the New York Thruway (I-90) between Exit 39 (I-690) and Exit 34 A (I-481). The measure would have allowed local drivers to obtain a permit and use the Thruway through the Syracuse area without paying a fare. The Thruway Authority would also be able to restrict the use of the permits to non peak hours, or implement charges per mile if a significant loss of revenue occurs.2 Governor Andrew Cuomo subsequently blocked this bill on October 23, 2017, indicating that the bill would violate state law:3
The state is prohibited from limiting or altering the rights of the New York State Thruway Authority to set tolls and fees that are deemed necessary to operate and maintain the Thruway system.
Passage of this bill would also serve as a catalyst for other jurisdictions to seek similar toll reductions, thus resulting in further and more expansive toll revenue loss.
Prohibiting the Thruway Authority from collecting tolls at these five exits would result in a “significant fiscal loss,” which would need to be addressed “in the context of the annual state budget negotiation.”