Continental 1 wants funding returned for Route 219 extension

Posted on December 15th, 2014

by David Bertola, Buffalo Business First

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As part of its 2015 agenda, Continental 1 is asking New York State to restore $6.7 million in funding for a supplemental environmental impact statement to help complete Route 219.

Formed about 15 years ago, Continental 1 is a non-profit formed to complete a 1,500-mile trade corridor that extends from Toronto to Miami.

Continental 1 wants the $6.7 million restored for the environmental impact statement, which must be completed prior to constructing any piece of the remaining 20 miles from Springville to Interstate 86 in Salamanca.

“New York has a 20-mile gap, and we need to fill it,” said Executive Director Meg Lauerman, who added that it would be difficult to put a price tag on the remaining 20 miles of construction.

She said that the $6.7 million to fund the supplemental environmental impact statement was removed from the 2008 budget.

“We need to have the $6.7 million re-allocated by New York State so that we can move on to the final design, to make the 219 more safe and passable for motorists. As local, regional and national infrastructure systems are affected with the growth of the natural gas industry, increased trade with Canada through Buffalo and the impacts of the Panama Canal on East Coast traffic, Continental 1 is gaining attention as a critical component of Northeast, Midwest and Canadian commercial and personal transportation,” she said.

In New York State, Lauerman said, 24 miles of Route 219 are complete.

“But each year more construction makes driving it a little more attractive to drive on, be near or locate a business on,” she said, adding that the completion of the 219 is important to the logistics industry to create a more direct, fuel efficient accessible way to get products from Western New York to the South.

“What we’re doing is connecting highways; we don’t want to build 1,500 miles of new highway,” Lauerman said.