By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO June 22, 2001 On Tuesday, representatives from the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) and the consulting firm of Sear Brown of Rochester held a public meeting at the Sullivan County Government Center in Monticello to discuss proposed plans to convert NYS Route 17 into Interstate 86 (I-86).
The meeting was the second in a series of three public meetings designed to outline the project and gather public input.
Following the completion of a draft corridor plan (July), a third public information meeting will be scheduled (August/Sept.). The final corridor plan is expected to be done in the fall.
The corridor study addresses the geometric deficiences and spacing concerns of all interchanges in the area designated for the future I-86.
While work has already started along 17 near Binghamton (in another NYS DOT region), officials said the construction/reconfigurations of interchanges in Sullivan County is not expected to be completed until 2006-2013.
The future I-86 corridor discussed Tuesday is approximately 106 miles in length, from Exit 84 in Delaware County, through Sullivan County and up to Exit 131 in Orange County.
The study inventoried existing transportation conditions in addition to geometric and environmental features, forecasted future conditions and identified existing and future needs. It also defined and evaluated alternative solutions at several locations.
While most residents were in favor of the overall project, several folks voiced strong opposition to the closure of exits, citing negative impacts on the area economy, limited future growth and safety problems.
Im very concerned about what kind of changes are going to be made at exits 100 and 101, said Victor Choe, owner of the Days Inn of Liberty. His business is located between Exit 100 (52 to Liberty) and Exit 101 (Ferndale & Swan Lake).
Before the meeting, Dave and Mary Barbuti lined up with other interested residents and business owners to look over a series of maps outlining the proposed construction project and alternative ways of converting 17 into I-86.
I think its a wonderful opportunity for this whole area, but as supervisor of the Town of Mamakating, Im very concerned that the exits remain open within the township for emergency services.
David Ligeikis, director of planning and program management for NYS DOT Region 9, said the interstate system is required by the federal government to be built to the highest safety standards with sensitivity to area residents and through-travelers.
He also called the 2006-2013 target date for completion a more reasonable deadline.
In presenting the plans to the public during the meeting, Dave Balthaser of Sear Brown discussed the project exit-by-exit and later fielded questions from the audience.
William Brenner, a long-standing member of the Grahamsville First Aid Squad, took the state to task for problems encountered by local emergency medical services (EMS) crews in getting off 17 at Exit 102 in Harris enroute to Community General Hospital (CGH) of Sullivan County.
The state has been diddling with Exit 102 for years, he said. Were totally disgusted with the present exit ramp to CGH. . . . The extra five minutes means a lot of blood loss in serious accidents.
Brenner called the proposed alternatives outlined for Exit 102 the first step toward progress for the people of Sullivan County.
According to the Route 17 Interchange Spacing & Geometric Study, three alternatives are under consideration for Exit 102: Alternative A (a new eastbound frontage road with direct access to CGH), Alt. B (a new diamond interchange & overhead bridge including direct access to the hospital) and Alt. C (relocation of the eastbound on/off ramp to CGH along County Route 75).
Jim Hillriegel of Wurtsboro and the former proprietor of Billys Stop convenience store/gas station at Exit 111 took issue with the proposed closure of several exits.
Youd better consider the people living here, he said. People need to get to work. . . . This is wrong, and youre not doing right by the county. For the future growth of the county, I say no!
In addition, there was considerable discussion regarding perceived safety issues caused by heavy truck traffic in the Village of Wurtsboro at Exits 113 and 114.
Clifford M. Teich, deputy mayor and trustee of the Village of Bloomingburg, wanted assurance that no exits would be closed in the county without officials considering input from the public.
The public will be involved in the decision-making process, said Ligeikis.
For more information about the I-86 project or to be placed on the Route 17 Interchange Spacing & Geometrics Study mailing list, contact Carlos A. Rivera, NYS DOT, Mobility Management Section, 1220 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12232-0429, ph: (518) 457-3429, or David Balthaser, Sear Brown, 85 Metro Park, Rochester, NY 14623, ph: (800) 724-4131.
Whats On The List
SULLIVAN COUNTY There are 22 existing exits in Sullivan County, covering approximately 45-50 miles of roadway. Starting in Roscoe and ending in Bloomingburg, the current exits are 94, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100A, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105 (A & B), 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114 and 115.
According to the published summary, four interchanges are targeted for directional upgrades/reconfigurations (100A, 106, 114 and 115); four interchanges are recommended for closure or consolidation (103 closure, 108 closure, 111 consolidation with 110 and 114 closure or consolidation).
In addition, Exit 109 is recommended for reconfiguration, and nine exits are targeted for local geometric or operational improvements: 94, 96, 99, 100, 101, 104, 105, 107 and 112.
A review of accidents at several existing interchanges indicated deficiencies: 94, 99, 100, 102, 104, 105, 106, and 107.
According to the study, vertical clearance at several bridges crossing 17 (future I-86) will need to be increased in order to comply with interstate requirements for a minimum of 16 feet of vertical clearance.
This would be accomplished by either raising the bridges or lowering the roadway. The exits noted: 99, 100, 102, 103, 104, 106, 107, 112 and 115.
Parksvilles Exit 98 is being handled separately, as officials, businesspeople and residents hash out how to work I-86 around the only full-fledged traffic light on 17 between Harriman and Binghamton.