Kathy Welsh

Kathy Welsh

Goshen – Recently at Matthews Street Park and Ride in Goshen, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer called for the planned expansion of Route 17 from Harriman to Wallkill to be extended into Sullivan County, all the way to Monticello. Schumer said that with construction of a new casino in Sullivan County set to begin; more vehicular traffic along Route 17 is expected. The current plan proposed by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is to expand Route 17 from two lanes to three, in both directions, but the expansion would not extend into Sullivan County, even though the need for more lanes is now greater than ever before. Schumer said that in order to avoid traffic bottlenecks in Orange County and to maximize the full potential of all of the region’s economic assets, revising the plan and continuing the expansion of Route 17 all the way to Monticello is critical. Schumer noted he has long been a proponent of Route 17 expansion efforts, and in 2005 he secured federal funds to study various options. Schumer said that in order to extend the expansion into Sullivan County, a mix of federal, state and private funds will be needed. Therefore, Schumer announced that he will be pushing to pass a large infrastructure bill in this Congress, because it would help pump federal money into projects like the Route 17 expansion that are critical for economic development.

Photo courtesy: “I81NY17Merge2” by Airtuna08 at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

“Expanding this vital artery of Route 17 to three lanes between Harriman in Orange County to Monticello in Sullivan County is critical for the Hudson Valley’s long-term economic development and growth. The traffic on Route 17 is bad enough now, and a new casino would only increase the bottlenecks and delays. By expanding this key route into Sullivan County, we can avoid greater traffic in Orange County and maximize the potential of the region’s assets by allowing businesses, workers, residents and visitors alike to freely access all there is to offer,” said Schumer. “We can all agree that our highways, bridges, and roads serve as the backbone of our economy, and our long-term economic outlook depends on the quality of our infrastructure. In order to improve that quality and constantly open up new opportunities, we must literally build, build, build. That is why I am calling to extend this expansion and urging my colleagues in Congress to pass a long-term infrastructure bill that will pump federal funds into worthwhile projects like the Route 17 expansion that are so crucial to regional and economic growth.”

Schumer has pushed for the widening of the Route 17 highway, which is being converted into Interstate 86, for years. Schumer has long been a proponent of a solution that would expand the highway to three lanes in each direction from Harriman in Orange County to Monticello in Sullivan County.

Schumer said that with construction of a new casino in Sullivan County set to begin; more vehicular traffic along Route 17 is expected. In addition to casino development, other projects, including the growth and popularity of destinations such as Bethel Woods and Woodbury Commons, have brought thousands more commuters to Route 17. Schumer said that in order to avoid traffic bottlenecks in Orange and Sullivan Counties and to maximize the full potential of all of the region’s economic assets, including the new casino, revising the plan and continuing the expansion of Route 17 all the way to Monticello is critical.

Schumer said he will work to secure as much funding as possible for the Highway Trust Fund, so New York can begin to make the investments needed to repair and upgrade roads, bridges, and transit systems across the state. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that, if current federal funding levels for infrastructure are maintained, the costs to the economy of congestion and delays will rise from $34 billion in 2020 to $63 billion by 2040. According to a Duke Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness report, each $1 billion invested in transportation infrastructure creates 21,671 jobs. Every dollar invested in transportation infrastructure returns $3.54 in economic impact. Schumer said these statistics are clear examples of why he will work to pass a strong infrastructure bill in this Congress and why extending the Route 17 expansion into Sullivan County is critical for the area’s economy.

Photo courtesy: “I81NY17Merge2” by Airtuna08 at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:I81NY17Merge2.jpg#mediaviewer/File:I81NY17Merge2.jpg

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