FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 10, 2008

Schumer Announces Key Senate Panel Approves $500,000 For Crucial Route 12 Improvements

Funding Would Transform the Historic Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge into a Tourism Hot Spot in Time for New York State's Quadricentennial Celebration Schumer, Who Visited the Walkway Over the Hudson Bridge Earlier this Year, Worked Closely With Committee to Include Funding In FY2009 Spending Bill Bill will now be sent to the Senate Floor

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the full Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development FY09 Appropriations Bill which includes $500,000 for Chenango County in collaboration of Broome, Madison, Oneida, and Herkimer Counties and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). The funding will be used to decrease travel time and improve traffic safety along New York State Route 12, a vital link between Binghamton, Norwich and Utica. The bill will now proceed to the Senate Floor as the next step in the appropriations process.  Schumer worked closely with members of the Appropriations Committee to include funding for the project in this year's spending bill.

 

“It is time—both literally and figuratively—to break the logjam and get Route 12 moving,” said Schumer. “Residents across Chenango, Madison, Broome and Oneida Counties have had their commutes, businesses and quality of life disrupted for too long now, despite being as proactive as possible in developing a plan, securing federal funding, and trying to get DOT, under past administrations, to move forward. I visited Route 12 a few months back and urged DOT to get moving, and intend to closely monitor the progress as I fight tooth-and-nail for this federal money to further help jumpstart the project.”

 

The $500,000 in federal funds will be used for continued improvements to the corridor stretching from Binghamton 84 miles north to Utica.  This corridor was previously documented in an October 2002 Phase I study prepared for the NY State Department of Transportation and the Route 12 Task Force.  Phase I projects focused on immediate accident safety and travel time benefits.  Phase II projects study, currently in the final stages of preparation, will concentrate on long term economic growth benefits and identify possible upgrades and/or alternatives.

 

In 2000, a pro-active coalition of community leaders spanning a four-county region came together with the united purpose of identifying and implementing a plan to clean up severe congestion and safety hazards along Route 12. Their short-term goal was to identify solutions to improve safety and ease congestion.   These actions would promote economic development and improve the quality of life for residents living in and around the region, and would be followed by the development of a long-term plan for improvements.

 

In 2002, a local task force worked with NYSDOT and a consultant to come up with specific short-term improvements along the route and create a plan for long-term renovation. Since then, however, of the 29 locations recommended for immediate improvement, only two have been completed.

 

Schumer, who helped secure $24 million in federal funding to support the project in the past, visited Route 12 this past May and called on NYSDOT to move the critical project forward and provide a timeline for completion.

 

“This $500,000 in federal funds is a continuation of my pledge to support this project. I hope that the NSYDOT will make a full court press to put these funds to good use and residents will see some meaningful relief to the frustrations that travel on Route 12 has caused for far too long,” Schumer said.

 

Schumer asked NYSDOT to focus on the top four projects which community leaders and task force members have identified as being most critical to the area.

 

  • Reconsider the improvements to the Lower Ravine Road to the City of Norwich and the Village of Sherburne turning lanes.  Although NYSDOT has since struck these items from the list of improvements, the Senator asked NYSDOT to reconsider, given the impact on the local communities. Schumer warned against leaving the Lower Ravine Rd improvement to the whim of developers as they have no incentive to make this a priority.  Furthermore, tractor trailers turning in Sherbourne have great difficulty making turns onto connecting roads.  Other traffic has to back up each time one of these trucks needs to turn, leading to further traffic jams, congestion and delays.

 

  • The Route 12 improvements at Greene, which are in preliminary design, must be completed as quickly as possible so that all the businesses relying on this stretch for deliveries can have access to materials and products in a timely way.

 

  • The Intersection Improvements at Rt 12 and County Road 23, which are currently under consideration with NYSDOT, must remain at the top of NYSDOT’s to do list.  Due to the limited sight distance and travel speed this intersection remains hazardous until improvements are made.   

 

Finally, Schumer asked NYSDOT to provide a timetable for when residents can expect these projects and others to come to fruition and, most importantly, to work closely with the stakeholders who formed the Route 12 Task Force whose input and contributions are invaluable, the Senator noted, as they know this region best.

 

Schumer also worked closely with the Senate Appropriations Committee to include these vital federal dollars in the spending bill. Now that the appropriations bill has been approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee, it will be sent to the Senate floor. Following approval by the Senate, the bill will move towards Conference with the House and then to the President for signature.

 

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