If the Seneca Nation and New York State can’t come to an agreement on how to proceed with roadwork on Interstate 86, the state will used the $47 million allocated for projects on the highway on other projects throughout the state.
Back in May when Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter was informed that the state would not be following the 19-year-old agreement that allows the nation to monitor construction sites on their territory, he said the Nation would take on the project themselves if they had to.
“We are here today to show that this is a priority project for the State of New York and for the Department of Transportation,” McDonald said in a news release following a news conference today in Evans. “DOT is prepared to immediately advance the I-86 project, which will rehabilitate and improve safety on this important highway while creating more than 450 jobs in the process. This project will benefit all residents – Seneca and non-Indian alike – as well as the motoring public. We need to get this done.”
Today, New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said if a resolution is not reached quickly the state reallocate the $28 ½ million for reconstruction of 11 ½ miles of I-86 from Steamburg to Salamanca, as well as money for upcoming projects, including the replacement of a bridge over Cattaraugus Creek and resurfacing from Salamanca to the Limestone exit.
Porter says if New York goes ahead with the project the state would be considered trespassers on Indian land. Porter has contacted the Federal Highway Administration to ask that the $28.5 million for the first project be re-allocated from the state to the nation so a Seneca company can do the work.