County lawmakers again seek Route 219 funding from state

Posted on March 2nd, 2015

by Rick Miller, Olean Times Herald

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LITTLE VALLEY — Cattaraugus County lawmakers are asking the New York State Legislature to help speed completion of the Route 219 Expressway through the county, beginning with a 1.66-mile segment at the intersection with Interstate 86 east of Salamanca.

The sponsors are Howard VanRensselaer, R-Randolph, chairman of the Legislature’s Development and Agriculture Committee; Vice Chairman James Boser, D-Allegany; and Legislator David Koch, D-Salamanca.

While the Legislature has in the past requested the state fund the 28-mile expressway, estimated to cost a total of $700 million, it has not previously asked for funding for a particular section. The federal government pays 80 percent of approved projects, while the state picks up the remaining 20 percent.

The resolution states: “Out of such total, the cost to complete the section of Route 219 which runs approximately 1.66 miles from the rail yard in Salamanca to I-86, including a mile-long viaduct over the Allegheny River, would be approximately $95 million” with a state share of $20 million plus $7 million for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Study (SEIS).

Legislators point out nearly 18 percent of county residents live below the poverty level, and the median income of $42,603 is more than $15,000 below the statewide median income. “With an unemployment rate of over 6 percent, Cattaraugus County has a significant and compelling need for economic investment and development,” the resolution states.

Sponsors are calling on state lawmakers to invest a portion of the state’s $5 billion bank settlement to invest “in infrastructure projects which create long-term economic development,” which they called “critical to boosting the economy of Cattaraugus County and Western New York.”

The resolution urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders join together in support of the project and to provide the necessary funding in the 2015-16 state budget.

The resolution was referred to the Development and Agriculture Committee and the Finance Committee, which will meet to discuss it on Wednesday.