Senator James Skoufis (D-Hudson Valley) stood with Senator Jen Metzger (D-Rosendale); Senator Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo), Chair of the Committee on Transportation; members of the 17-Forward-86 Coalition; and local elected officials to speak to the importance of the Route 17 expansion project with respect to the economic well-being of the Hudson Valley.
The senators discussed the necessary funding of $100 million per year needed in the Department of Transportation’s 2020 five-year capital plan to add a third lane to expand Route 17 to Interstate 86.
From Harriman, where Skoufis represents, to the Monticello area, where Metzger represents, relief from traffic congestion is absolutely vital to improve the quality of life, public safety, and economic viability of the region.
In May 2013, the New York State Department of Transportation released a 13-month-long study on the Route 17 Transportation Corridor and recommended that a general use third lane be added in each direction; the study was funded with $1 million secured by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.
The report found that existing congestion and delays on Route 17 will worsen over the near - and long-term and that an additional lane would alleviate the segment of the corridor that is projected to experience the highest levels of congestion.
“Local residents deserve better than bumper-to-bumper traffic to get to work or school - this project simply cannot wait any longer," Skoufis said. "With Legoland opening in Goshen this summer and continued stress on our local infrastructure, time is of the essence to move forward with a third lane. New, additional capacity would make an enormous difference for our residents, business owners, first responders and commuters - all while putting construction men and women to work."
Kennedy, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, added: “When we talk about advancing progress on Route 17, we’re not just talking about expanding roadway capacity; we’re developing a comprehensive, robust plan to improve the quality of life for commuters who use this roadway every single day, and fighting for an investment that will grow tourism and the regional economy for generations to come.”
Metzger said: “We face an immediate and urgent need to invest in the Route 17 expansion to accommodate the renaissance the region is experiencing and allow for future growth."
Nancy Proyect, president of the Orange County Citizens Foundation and member of the 17Forward86 Coalition, said, “This project will improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike by safeguarding the environment, improving safety, and ensuring access to our communities for emergency services, economic growth, and the public.”
Lynn Cione, President & CEO of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, said, “The traffic on Route 17 has been a challenge to local residents on the weekends for at least 30 years - a known fact for anyone who lives or does business here. This expansion would not only benefit us in Orange County but would benefit the entire state as this is the only east-west corridor across the state."
In 2018, Skoufis worked with his legislative colleagues to secure $5 million to advance the environmental and design activities related to the construction of a third travel lane along the Route 17 corridor in Orange and Sullivan counties, a critical first step in the process of the expansion.