Route 17 Widening

The New York State Department of Transportation along with the Hochul administration are proposing a $1 billion expansion project to widen 30 miles of Route 17 in Sullivan and Orange County. Catskill Mountainkeeper is anchoring a campaign opposing the proposed expansion. Instead of a highway expansion, Catskill Mountainkeeper and our allies urge New York to develop an alternate vision for the Route 17 corridor’s transportation and economic needs aligned with State and Federal climate laws.

About the Misguided Proposal

In 2021, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) released a Final Route 17 Transportation Corridor Planning and Environment Linkages Study (Route 17 PEL Report). The study evaluates the engineering feasibility of adding a third lane to Route 17 between exit 131 (Harriman) and exit 113 (Wurtsboro) in both directions along 30 miles. This is the largest highway expansion project proposal in New York State and one of the largest in the nation. Notably, this report mistakenly concludes that adding a third lane will reduce GHG emissions and excludes bus rapid transit and accessible public transportation options for the corridor.

Why We’re Concerned

Catskill Mountainkeeper is concerned about the environmental impacts and necessity of this $1 billion project as proposed. Congestion on Route 17 is mostly limited to Friday and Sunday (discretionary/recreational travel), which can be better and more environmentally addressed by Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures, such as ride-sharing and public transportation. A third lane running in each direction would lead to increased traffic, increased congestion, create urban sprawl, cause millions of tons of additional CO2 emissions, and result in a six-lane highway running straight into the Catskill Mountains. As the watchdog for the Catskills and its communities, our goal is to prevent this expansion and its negative outcomes, advocating instead for a better vision.

What We’re Doing

Consequent to these concerns, Catskill Mountainkeeper and allies in the region are advocating instead for an alternative vision for the Route 17 corridor. In addition to providing safe and reliable transportation, this vision can: connect our communities, support smart, sustainable growth, meet climate mandates under the Climate Leadership and Communities Protection Act (CLCPA) and Justice 40 initiatives, and encourage economic growth in the region.

We believe there are better ways to spend $1 billion that could help the economy while addressing transportation needs in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

 

Come back to this page for the most up-to-date information and reach out to Taylor Jaffe at [email protected] for more information or to get involved.

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