Route 17/I-86 Conversion After Years of Advocacy

A bipartisan group of mid-Hudson Valley legislators, including Senators Mike Martucci (R,C-New Hampton) and James Skoufis (D-Orange County) and Assemblymembers Karl Brabenec (R-Florida), Aileen Gunther (D-Monticello), and Jonathan Jacobson (D-Newburgh), are expressing optimism about the future Route 17 to I-86 conversion.

These legislators have long advocated for the funding and prioritization needed to kickstart the conversion of this well-trod highway, and with news this week that the state is launching its environmental review process, they are confident construction will begin in earnest within the next few years. Additionally, $1 billion was included in the recently adopted capital plan to accelerate the highway’s upgrade, including the addition of a third lane in both directions and substantive improvements to access ramps.

Senator James Skoufis said, “For too long, local and regional travelers have heard empty promises about the future Route 17 to I-86 conversion, and we have all those rusty ‘Future I-86’ signs along the shoulder to prove it. My colleagues and I have fought long and hard over the past few years to change course on this stalled infrastructure behemoth, and I am thrilled to see our continued advocacy pay off. When completed, this interstate will serve as a vital connector and tourism corridor for the Hudson Valley and the Catskills, buoying our economy with new jobs and easier access to the exceptional amenities, shops, restaurants, and activities this region is known for.”

Senator Mike Martucci said, “This project has been years—decades even—in the making, so real, measurable progress is a welcomed sight. As the state Senator representing parts of Orange and all of Sullivan, I was glad to join this effort that many before me and with me now have made possible. The accessibility, sustainability, safety, and prosperity of our region and the people who call it home will be well-served when it’s complete.”

Assemblymember Karl Brabenec said, “After decades of waiting, I am happy that this critical project is finally moving forward. This highly anticipated improvement will create many positive opportunities, not only during the construction phase, but well after. These upgrades will further spur economic vitality and improve quality of life throughout the region!”

Assemblymember Aileen Gunther said, “I am so proud to have worked with my fellow legislators on this vital project for the Hudson Valley. With the volume of traffic we have seen, especially post-pandemic, in my district and throughout the Hudson Valley, this project is even more important to support and sustain the fantastic growth we have experienced throughout the region. This project is not just an opportunity to make a meaningful investment in Route 17 simply so it can handle the increased traffic we see today. The expansion to three lanes will ensure that the future of the Catskills and Hudson Valley region is one of growth and prosperity sustained by transportation infrastructure that can meet the needs of both today and tomorrow. I am proud to see that our constant pushing by advocates and legislators have paid off for the workers, tourists, and residents who love the Hudson Valley.”

Assemblymember Jonathan Jacobson said, “No matter where you live in the Hudson Valley, Route17/I-86 is an essential highway for economic growth and ease of travel. With the start of the environmental review process, we are certainly in the home stretch. As a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, I will continue to fight to make sure that rhetoric of an expanded Route 17 converted into I-86 becomes a reality.”

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