The southwestern corner of New York State has long suffered from high unemployment and low income, and a lack of good regional highway access. To address the region's economic needs and accessibility limitations, New York State authorized development of the Southern Tier Expressway, and the Appalachian Regional Commission designated it as Corridor "T" of the Appalachian Development Highway System. The route was initially served by a 2-lane road, but the western portion (185 miles) was upgraded to a four lane, limited access expressway over the 1980's and 1990's. The upgrade was completed in 1999 at which time the highway was formally designated as Interstate 86.
This study examines the nature of initial economic development impacts associated with completion of the four lane expressway and designation of the new Interstate highway. It applies a methodology developed in the Federal Highway Administration report: Using Empirical Information to Measure the Economic Impact of Highway Investments, Vol. 2: Guidelines for Data Collection and Analysis. This report is a joint effort of the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board and contractors funded by FHWA-- Economic Development Research Group, Inc. and Cambridge Systematics, Inc. This study only shows preliminary, initial impacts. It will take up to ten years of economic data to observe the extent of any net long-term increases in employment and income that are attributable to completion of this highway project.
Notwithstanding the previous sentence, key findings were that:
Staff of three organizations jointly conducted this study. The lead organization was the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board (STWRPDB), under whose auspices this report was completed. Using internal funding of the STWRPDB, staff including Don Rychnowski (Executive Director) and Paul Miller collected primary data concerning development impacts.
The study was completed with the assistance of contractors funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) "Environment and Planning Technical Support" contract (DTFH61-98-00107, TO-24). This contract task order was directed by Martin Weiss of FHWA, and funded to Cambridge Systematics, Inc. as prime contractor and Economic Development Research Group, Inc. as subcontractor for work with regional and state agencies in developing prototype studies of the economic impact of highway improvements.
Glen Weisbrod of Economic Development Research Group (EDRG) directed the overall study design and analysis process, and was assisted by Manisha Gupta of EDRG, who evaluated economic development patterns in the region. Brian Ten Siethof and Chris Porter of Cambridge Systematics (CS) analyzed survey data and also collected data for a comparison area. John Suhrbier of CS oversaw the contract with FHWA.
The study team is indebted to a large number of local, state and county officials, as well as representatives of local business (chamber of commerce) organizations, which participated in interviews and provided local information on property values, development and plans.