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New York Governor Announces Major Milestone on Conversion of State Route 17 into Interstate 86

MIDDLETOWN, NY — Governor Kathy Hochul announces a major milestone in the long-awaited conversion of State Route 17 into Interstate 86 in Orange and Sullivan Counties. Work has begun on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the upgrade of the roadway to interstate standards, with public outreach and involvement efforts expected to begin in early 2023. The launch of the environmental review process follows the inclusion of up to $1 billion in the recently adopted State Capital plan to accelerate the conversion of the highway — which is a vital artery for the flow of people and commerce to and from the Mid-Hudson, Catskills, and Southern Tier regions — to interstate standards and add a third lane.

Converting State Route 17 in Orange and Sullivan counties to Interstate 86 will relieve road congestion and further fuel growth in the region. Over the past several years, projects have been completed by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to further upgrade sections of Route 17, including reconstruction of the interchange at Exit 131, where Route 17 meets Interstate 87 and Route 32, and reconstruction of Exit 122 Stage I and Exit 125 to meet interstate standards.

"This project is a great example of Governor Hochul's vision of reconnecting communities by investing in infrastructure to strengthen our economy and create more resilient and healthier places to live and work," said NYSDOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez. "This environmental review process for the Route 17 conversion is an important step forward that will help us improve one of the busiest travel corridors in the state and bolster an economic lifeline for the surrounding communities."

The DEIS will build on the recently completed Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) study and assess the conversion of the full Route 17 corridor in Orange County and eastern Sullivan County to Interstate standards. The DEIS will perform a full NEPA environmental assessment of alternatives starting with those identified as reasonable in the Final PEL Report, looking at issues such as air quality, wetland impacts, and environmental justice. Among the alternatives to be screened will be the inclusion of such features as the addition of a third lane, interchange improvements, bridge replacements, and enhanced park-n-ride facilities, including expanded capacity and EV charging. NYSDOT expects to publish a final Environmental Impact Statement for the project in 2025. The department is also progressing contract plans to complete Stage II of the Exit 122 interchange project to enhance the westbound ramp system. It is expected that construction will start in the spring of 2024.