Widening Route 17 In New York Is ‘Worst Way’ To Improve Highway
Officials are shooting down the idea of widening Route 17 in the Hudson Valley.
The Regional Plan Association looked into the idea of widening Route 17 in the Hudson Valley
Not Backing Plan To Widen Route 17 In Orange, Sullivan Counties
In 2019, over 100 representatives of economic development, business, tourism, construction and more gathered in Albany to push for state funding to widen Route 17 in Orange and Sullivan counties.
The effort wants to add a third lane, in both directions, between Harriman and Exit 103 in Monticello on Route 17. Coalition members say the expansion is critical to help reduce traffic, improve safety, protect the environment, accommodate growth and enhance the effort to upgrade Route 17 to Interstate 86 in the region.
The Regional Plan Association is not backing the plan to widen Route 17 in Orange and Sullivan counties.
Worst Way To Improve Route 17 In Upstate New York
In fact, officials believe it would be the "worst way" to improve Route 17.
The agency released a report saying that research shows highway widening does not solve congestion and other transportation problems.
"Some interest groups have seized on the third lane alternative and assumed the DOT project will add such a lane. Much of the public discussion, then, has assumed a wider highway along the 45-mile corridor from Harriman to Monticello, NY. In fact, widening the road could actually be the worst way to achieve the desired improvements in the corridor," the Regional Plan Association stated.
Hochul Announces Major Milestone on Transformative Conversion of State Route 17 into Interstate 86
In October 2022, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced what her office called a "major milestone in the long-awaited conversion" of State Route 17 into Interstate 86 in Orange and Sullivan counties.
"As we continue to improve our infrastructure across the Empire State, we are laser-focused on delivering smart projects like this monumental investment in the Mid-Hudson region that maximize impact on regional economies," Hochul said. "The Route 17 Draft Environmental Impact Statement kicks off this transformative project, which will enhance tourism, economic competitiveness and quality of life for residents and visitors alike. The Mid-Hudson region is a jewel of the New York State and with this project we are helping this region not only meet, but exceed its future potential."
'Historic' Conversion of Route 17 To I-86 in Orange, Sullivan Counties
Hochul confirmed work started on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The environmental impact study must be completed before officials can move ahead with the conversion of State Route 17 into Interstate 86.
The start of the environmental review comes after $1 billion was given to the project in the recently adopted State Capital, officials say. Public outreach is expected to begin in early 2023. will begin next year and up to one billion dollars.
A third lane will be added during the conversion.
"Converting State Route 17 in Orange and Sullivan counties to Interstate 86 will relieve road congestion and further fuel what has already been explosive growth in the region," Hochul's office stated.
Hudson Valley Coalition Rallies for Upgrades to Route 17
17-Forward-86 is a coalition that represents Hudson Valley residents.
"The proposed expansion of Route 17 will strengthen the region’s economy by improving access for tourists and businesses while enhancing commuter safety and reducing environmental damage from vehicular emissions caused by idling motorists. The expansion will also improve quality of life for residents who face increased traffic on side roads as a result of commuters trying to get around Route 17’s congestion," 17-Forward-86 states on its website.
According to 17-Forward-86, expanding Route 17 will strengthen the economy, increase the safety of drivers and help the environment by lessening vehicular emissions caused by idling motorists stuck in traffic on Route 17.
"The expansion will also improve quality of life for residents who face increased traffic on side roads as a result of commuters trying to get around Route 17’s congestion," 17-Forward-86 wrote on its website.
The coalition believes "expanding Route 17 is vital to (the) quality of life and the economic well-being of the Hudson Valley and Sullivan Catskills."
Highlights from 2024-25 New York State Budget
Gallery Credit: Ed Nice