Senators Call Completion of Highway Construction Effort Crucial To Creating Unprecedented Economic Opportunities Upstate

US Senators Charles E. Schumer and Daniel Patrick Moynihan today wrote to Governor George Pataki urging him to support the $3.8 billion State Transportation Bond Act and to ensure that State Department of Transportation's fiveyear capital plan includes the $550 million needed to complete the conversion of Route 17 into Interstate 86.

In their letter, Schumer and Moynihan wrote that the I86 project "has suffered from decades of inaction... During the 45 years since the thenBureau of Public Roads turned down the State's application to have Route 17 incorporated within the Interstate Highway System, the Southern Tier has a suffered a steady economic decline, losing jobs and population. At the same time, previously inaccessible parts of the U.S. have become booming business locations precisely because of their proximity to the Interstate Highway System."

"A recent study by Wilber Smith Associates suggests that the swift completion of the necessary Route 17 repairs could impart some $3.2 billion in economic benefits to the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley areas. Statewide, we can think of no comparable economic development opportunity," Schumer and Moynihan continued.

The I86 conversion was authorized in 1998 in TEA21 legislation and began in 1999 when the Federal Highway Administration designated 177 miles of Route 17 (from the New York/Pennsylvania state line to State Route 352 in East Corning) as an Interstate Highway. The State Transportation Bond Act could help pay to upgrade the remaining 204 mile section of Route 17 (from East Corning to Harriman) so that it is compliant with federal highway standards.

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