NYSDOT Announces Federal Approval To Designate Portion Of Route 17 As Interstate 86

Chemung County Section Approved Following Reconstruction Project

ALBANY, NY (09/16/2013)(readMedia)-- New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Commissioner Joan McDonald today announced that a 15.8-mile portion of Route 17 in Chemung County has been designated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as Interstate 86. The designation comes after an extensive rehabilitation project to upgrade the road to federal interstate standards.

"Upgrading Route 17 to interstate standards will improve safety and make traveling through the southern corridor more efficient for commuters, tourists and commercial drivers," Commissioner McDonald said. "The designation of the Elmira-Chemung portion of highway as Interstate 86 extends the vital link from Tioga County west to the Pennsylvania line along New York's southern border."

"This newly improved route answers President Obama's call for economic growth," said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. "This new designation will strengthen the region's economy by helping freight move more safely and efficiently from the Northeast to markets around the world."

A total of 15.8 miles in the towns of Ashland, Chemung and Elmira, Chemung County, has been designated between Exit 56 and the Tioga County line. A portion of this stretch already met interstate standards, and the other 6.5-mile portion underwent a significant rehabilitation project in order to qualify for interstate standards.

The $62 million improvement project began in 2010 and was substantially completed in the fall of 2012. The project spanned from Exit 56 at Church and Water streets to Exit 59 at Chemung. Work included removing all at-grade crossings and signalized intersections, completely reconstructing the highway and constructing controlled access points, including new interchanges. In addition to making the stretch eligible for interstate designation, the extensive improvements are expected to reduce the potential for traffic accidents and increase motorist safety. Also as part of the project, County Road 60 was reconstructed and tied in as a continuous part of the nearby local road system.

The 381-mile highway stretches from the Pennsylvania state line in western New York, to Interstate 87 in the Hudson Valley. More than half of Route 17 has already been designated as I-86, with just more than 200 miles of highways upgraded to interstate standards. The remaining 186 miles of Route 17 are in various stages of project development from preliminary design to construction.

To be considered an interstate, a highway must have controlled access through entrance and exit ramps. It must meet American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) interstate design standards, which include criteria for lane, shoulder and median width, be designed for high speeds and have full access control. An interstate must be a divided highway with four lanes, one end must connect to an interstate and both ends must meet at a route of regional significance.