Orange County Partnership Leads Coalition on Route 17 Initiative
John Jordan | March 2018
GOSHEN—The Orange County Partnership reports that it is leading a coalition that includes the Orange County Citizens Foundation and the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development in trying to have New York State fund necessary traffic improvements on Route 17 to alleviate congestion and facilitate economic development and growth.
The three organizations are promoting an initiative to convince state lawmakers to free up millions of dollars to have the New York State Department of Transportation review prior Route 17 improvement and expansion studies and develop a plan that can be readily implemented if and when funding becomes available.
The need for additional investment on Route 17 is based on existing traffic congestion and the additional traffic generated by the more than $1-billion Resorts World Casino in Sullivan County, which opened on Feb. 8, the opening in several years of the $500-million LEGOLAND New York resort in Goshen and the $95-million Amy’s Kitchen facility in Goshen now under development. The roadway already has significant traffic issues due to the popularity of Woodbury Common Premium Outlets and the United States Military Academy at West Point.
Maureen Halahan, president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership stated, “Traffic congestion is a serious problem affecting the quality of life for residents and visitors and presents challenges to economic growth. The most important next step in addressing congestion is to have a real transportation action plan for the region that is easily understood, communicated and part of a consensus-building effort across the region.”
The coalition believes that if the New York State DOT can prioritize locations that are causing congestion and safety issues and deterring economic growth potential, the corridor will be well positioned to benefit from any future national infrastructure initiatives.
“A core priority of Governor (Andrew) Cuomo’s agenda is the “Built to Lead” infrastructure and development program—an unprecedented and ambitious initiative to transform our state and set the stage for success,” Halahan added. “An implementation plan is vitally important because if these improvements can be properly planned and designed, they would be first in line to get built.”
Construction has recently begun on the $150-million Exit 131 improvement project adjacent to Woodbury Common Premium Outlets that will improve access to the retail center as well as institute all electronic tolling at the Harriman interchange.
The Route 17 initiative led by the Orange County Partnership has received support from statewide elected officials in the region, including New York State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who have formally requested Governor Andrew Cuomo add funding to the 2018 budget for Route 17. Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and Sullivan County Manager Joshua Potosek recently wrote a joint letter to the governor in support of the funding, the Orange County Partnership stated.
“Our efforts are paying dividends as local and state-wide office holders are initiating support for and state funding of an implementation plan. By drawing attention to a problem, and then outlining solutions to remedy it, we will keep the Mid-Hudson Region growing and strong,” Halahan said.