Interstate 690 New York
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.
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.”
Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-690 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
Source: 2019 AADT NYSDOT Traffic Data Viewer
Interstate 690 was coupled with I-81 and I-281 in the $150 million, 1968 interstate and arterial highway program for Syracuse, New York. I-690 was outlined to make use of the New York Central right of way, which would accommodate one of the two lane roadways for the eventual freeway.4 The Onondaga Interchange, where I-81 and I-690 converge along the north side of Downtown Syracuse, debuted to motorists on August 22, 1968. Opened without fanfare at 11:01 AM, the 1.89 mile section of I-690 west to Hiawatha Boulevard (Exit 8) cost $13.6 million to build.5
Construction proceeded on two additional sections east to the Butternut Interchange with Interstate 481 (then I-281).5 Bids for the $30 million, 2.4 mile section of the freeway east from Foreman Avenue to Erickson Street were opened on April 28, 1966.6 I-690 east to I-481 was completed in the early 1970s.7 The western terminus was reconfigured with a direct interchange at Interstate 90 in 1987.8
The Butternut Interchange, where I-690 connects with Interstate 481 in the town of DeWitt, includes a pair of unused ramps and grading for additional connections with the unconstructed relocation of New York State Route 5. A 1965 proposal for a bypass of Fayetteville outlined a corridor extending southeast from I-690 and then I-281 along the right of way of the New York Central Railroad, Chenango branch to Route 92 at point near Oran.9 The Fayetteville Bypass was advanced by state officials at a luncheon on March 17, 1967, but without a tentative timetable. Coupled with a proposal to relocate Route 92 to the south of Manluis, the realignment of Route 5 was roughly projected to follow the old Erie Canal east.10 Ultimately neither Route 5, nor the four to six lane highway envisioned for Route 92 east from the Jamesville interchange with I-481 were constructed.
East End – East Syracuse, New York
Interstate 481 curves northeast from a cloverleaf interchange with NY 5 and NY 92 to meet the east end of I-690. 08/22/21
Left Exit 4 departs with two lanes from Interstate 481 north for I-690 west to East Syracuse, Syracuse and Solvay. 08/22/21
West End – Van Buren, New York
- “NYS Fair officials: I-690 ramp not perfect but would ease jammed lot.” The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), January 23, 2017.
- “Assembly okays bill allowing toll-free commuting on Thruway in Syracuse area.” CNYCentral, June 21, 2017.
- “Gov. Cuomo vetoes bill that would make Thruway free for Syracuse commuters.” The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), October 24, 2017.
- “Interstate Project Viewed As Downtown Salvation. The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), March 5, 1962.
- “Interchange Debut Lacks Fuss, Foulup.” The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), August 23, 1968.
- “Arterial Progress.” The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), March 25, 1966.
- New York Routes – Routes 600-699.
- “I-690 Rebuilt to Safety Standards.” Syracuse Herald American (NY), January 25, 1987.
- “F’ville By-Pass Eyed.” The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), September 16, 1965.
- “By-Pass Solution Advanced.” The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), March 18, 1967.
- “This will be the last NYS Fair with that traffic signal on I-690.” The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), August 26, 2019.
- “Governor Cuomo Announces Completion of New York State Fair Orange Lot Access Improvement Project.” The Great New York State Fair, press release. September 15, 2020.
Page updated April 5, 2023.