On Thursday, March 10th, the 17-Forward-86 Coalition held a rally at the Galleria at Crystal Run in Middletown to call on New York State leaders to allocate funding for an additional lane and other upgrades on Route 17 as part of the new five-year state Department of Transportation (DOR) capital plan. The coalition was joined by business and civic leaders, law enforcement, and elected officials.

17-Forward-Coaltion
17-Forward-Coalition
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17-Forward-86 Coalition

17-Forward-86 is urging Governor Kathy Hochul and state legislators to commit construction funding as part of the developing NYDOT five-year capital plan, to be enacted as part of the state budget that is due April 1st. The coalition is made up of industry, trade, and civic representatives that are seeking to improve mobility and safety in the region by providing necessary upgrades and an additional travel lane along Route 17 in Orange and Sullivan counties. They are requesting the state to utilize part of the more than $5 billion in additional funding that has been earmarked for New York State under the federal Infrastructure and Jobs Act. 

17-Forward-86 was established in August 2018 by a dedicated group of advocates who support the widening of Route 17. The coalition comprises more than 200 members of economic development groups, construction trades, environmental stewardship, tourism groups, business, health care, and energy companies who share a common vision for expanding the capacity of Route 17 to strengthen the economic well-being of the Hudson Valley and Sullivan Catskills.

17-Forward-86 Coalition
17-Forward-86 Coalition
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Hochul Makes Route 17 a Priority for Investment

17-Forward-86 Coalition co-chair Maureen Halahan, President and CEO of the Orange County Partnership, noted the governor has cited funding the conversion of Route 17 to Interstate 86 in Orange and Sullivan counties as part of the state’s capital plan, and that the state DOT will begin an environmental review for the conversion.

“We are grateful to Gov. Hochul for making Route 17 a priority for investment... The ongoing state budget process makes this a critical point for making these well-documented and much-needed upgrades a reality... This is our time. The project is poised to move forward and the state has the resources to make it happen.”

-Maureen Halahan

Planning and Environmental Linkages

The NYSDOT recently issued the final Planning and Environment Linkages (PEL) study for the Route 17 corridor. The final PEL report was based on extensive public outreach and provides the path forward to address current and future transportation needs on Route 17. The PEL confirmed previous NYSDOT studies, including a 2013 study sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, that identified an additional travel lane, safety upgrades, and enhanced park-and-ride lots as necessary to address safety and mobility needs across the Route 17 corridor.

17-Forward-86 founding member John Cooney Jr., Executive Director of the Construction Industry Council of Westchester & and Hudson Valley, Inc., noted efforts by New York representatives at the federal level – including Sen. Schumer and U.S. Reps. Mondaire Jones, Sean Patrick Maloney, and Anthony Delgado in securing the $5 billion for New York State.

“New York State has never, in its history, had a better opportunity to increase the amount of money to spend on its roads and bridges and specifically on Route 17. The federal government has given New York State a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage its dollars and truly make improvements in our infrastructure. Let’s seize it.”

- John Cooney

Sharon Soons, Executive Director of Vision Hudson Valley, and coalition member says:

“This is about mobility for all, and that includes the thousands of daily bus riders, many of whom use the 15 park-and-ride lots along Route 17. They deserve a reliable and predictable ride, whether they are traveling within Sullivan and Orange, or headed to New York City. Let’s get the environmental studies going and chart the best path forward. The federal money is there. Let’s seize this opportunity for the Hudson Valley – for our residents, our visitors and our future.”

Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, R-98th said that improvements can help boost economic development through tourism and sustainability. Orange County Undersheriff Ken Jones cited the critical role mobility plays in transporting the sick or injured to medical treatment, especially with fewer community hospitals nearby.

“Today, medical services are delivered through regional hospitals that have many more services available, but are further spaced apart. These roads are what we rely on to deliver those services in a timely fashion … (or) tragic outcomes can occur. So, the expansion of roadways is supporting the network of police, fire, ambulance services that make our community safe. One of the pillars of any society is the safety of its residents. That is why we support this particular project.”

-Ken Jones

To learn more, visit www.17Forward86.org.

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