ALBANY, N.Y. -- A coalition representing more than 100 stakeholders invested in the region's economic vitality were in Albany today to launch a campaign for expanding Route 17 in Orange and Sullivan counties.

17-Forward-86, a group of business, industry, trade and tourism interests, seeks $500 million from New York state to add a third lane each way on the heavily traveled corridor between Harriman and Exit 103 in Monticello.

Coalition members cited the critical need to ease congestion, improve safety, protect the environment, accommodate growth and enhance the effort to upgrade Route 17 to enable future designation as Interstate 86 in the region.

"Expanding Route 17 is vital to quality of life and the economic well-being of the Hudson Valley and Sullivan Catskills," said Maureen Halahan, President and CEO of the Orange County Partnership. "It 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."

New York State Senate and Assembly members were present to voice support for the expansion project, including:

  • Mayor Joseph DeStefano, Middletown
  • Supervisor Douglas Bloomfield, Goshen
  • Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, 100th District
  • Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, 98th District
  • Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, 104th District
  • Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, 99th District
  • Senator Jen Metzger, 42nd District
  • Senator James Skoufis, 39th District
  • Senator George Amedore Jr., 46th District
  • Representative for Assemblyman Brian Miller, 101st District

The coalition's campaign to raise awareness of safety and travel concerns, and solve these problems, comes at a pivotal time for the region. The volume of traffic on Route 17 is expected to increase sharply and the inability to meet driver demand negatively affects everything from economic development and tourism, to public safety and population growth.

"Once complete, this project, by a very conservative estimate, will have an economic impact of $1.5 billion on the region," said Marc Baez, President and CEO, the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development. "With the Resorts World Casino and other investments in Sullivan County, this project is critical to our ability to thrive."

To achieve its goal, 17-Forward-86 is seeing inclusion in the state Department of Transportation's Capital Plan for a five-year term at $100 million a year beginning in March 2020. The state has already invested $150 million in reconfiguring Route 17's Exit 131 and expanding the roadway's capacity is an important next step for the region. This spring, the DOT is scheduled to conduct a $5 million Planning and Environmental Linkage study (PEL), which includes identifying priority locations and conducting environmental assessments and preliminary engineering.