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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

New York I-86 Statement by Martin Weiss

A statement by Martin Weiss, Team Leader, National Systems and Economic Development Team, Office of Interstate and Border Planning, FHWA.

On August 4 and 5, 2003, I visited the western portion of the I-86 corridor in New York State, in company with Don Rychnowski and Paul Miller, both of the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board and both of who contributed to the study.

The visit served three purposes. The first; was to thank the Southern Tier West for their assistance. This assistance resulted in a study that follows FHWA funded methodology and sets the highest standard for a before/after (a.k.a. ex-post) economic development study in terms of comprehensiveness and clarity. The second; was to get a first hand look at the corridor and especially to view any changes that had ensued since the study was completed. The third; was to begin to make some tentative conclusions about the economic impact that the widening, to 4 lanes, upgrading of interchanges and designation of an Interstate (I-86) has had. The general improvement of the corridor has been underway for a number of years and other than improvement to the mainline pavement of I-86 substantial transportation improvements in the corridor are not expected in the near future. The map below appears in the study in Appendix B and shows the area discussed in the conclusions.

map showing the western I-86 corridor lies east-west in southern Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties in New York and the recent development (the red flags) are scattered along the corridor.

The map above shows that the western I-86 corridor lies east-west in southern Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties in New York and the recent development (the red flags) are scattered along the corridor.

Unusual History

This corridor has an interesting history. NY Route 17 (sometimes known as the Southern Tier Expressway) served as the artery of this corridor for many years. In 1998, the surface transportation authorization, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, colloquially known as TEA-21 contained a provision (section 1211(h)(2)(C)) designating NY 17 in New York State as future I-86. The late Senator Daniel P. Moynihan (Senator from New York 1977-2001) is credited with placing this provision into the TEA-21. Senator Moynihan had, during the early 1990s, famously said, "We've poured enough concrete" and, at this time, placed a provision in section 1001(a) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, a.k.a., ISTEA proclaiming the end of Interstate authorizations, appropriations and apportionments and similar comments. The May 23, 1998 Birmingham Press, May 25, 1998 Corning Leader and June 04, 2003 Elmira Star-Gazette (all in New York State) newspapers had articles or editorials that explained this change in policy. Senator Moynihan had, in 1997 been informed by Samara Barend, an intern at the time, of the general pro highway sentiment of people in the corridor. Samara had been part of the "pro Interstate" movement before that time. This sentiment was that the area elected officials and business community strongly desired Interstate status for the corridor and felt that such status could be a catalyst for economic development in the corridor. Later in 1997, Senator Moynihan gave direction to Samara to find a way to expedite the Interstate designation. Eventually, this direction led to the statutory language in TEA-21 in 1998. The actual designation didn't occur until the highway geometrics and interchanges were improved to Interstate design standards. FHWA designated I-86 from the Pennsylvania State line bordering Chautauqua county east to Corning, New York in December 1999. This was preceded by a conditional designation earlier that year that was subject to some improvements being completed.


First, there are some efforts beginning to use community pride via the beautification of the area serving as an entrance to various communities served by the I-86 interchanges. This is a step in establishing what the Southern Tier West sees as a corridor 'brand' that can then be used in future efforts to market the corridor to employers.

I-86 PRIDE sign designating first site to be posted in the interchange beautification program developed by Southern Tier West RPDB in cooperation with NYS DOT.

photo: I-86 PRIDE road sign

Site of future I-86 PRIDE project in Allegany County at Exit 31-Angelica.

photo: photo of a hill with trees

Second, tourism is already factor in the corridor. On August 5th, there were a number of tourism groups visiting the complex of the Lucille Ball Museum, theatre and gift shop. The clerk at the gift shop told me she was doing over a thousand dollars and hour in business (image Lucille Ball museum). New motels are being developed nearby to accommodate the increased visitation that may be partially due to better access via I-86. Other tourism assets exist including a casino owned by the Seneca Indian Nation in Salamanca; an architectural masterpiece, the Block Barn in Cuba; and a system of bicycle/skateboard/jogging lanes in the area centered near Olean. I did not see substantial activity around these sites during my trip; however, each clearly has potential.

Seneca Gaming Casino located approximately ½ mile from I-86.

photo: casino building with a sign in front

"Block Barn", former equestrian center. Now privately owned, past attempts at development have included restaurants, Arabian horse farm and Ostrich farm. Often photographed for its unique architecture.

photo: driveway thru a lawn to a former barn.

A popular tourism destination in Jamestown is the complexof a museum, theater and gift shiop devoted to the Career or Lucille Ball. This complex had been in existence for over a decade as of 2003. However, due to increased access provided by I-86, the number of visits to the complex has triggered the construction of a large motel and site approvalof another motel nearby. This in turn is expected to increase business in the restaurants, antique shops and similar activities in the Jamestown area.

photo: Lucille Ball marquee

Country Inn and Suites across from St. Bonaventure University in Allegany. Approximately 3 miles from Exit 24 and 4 miles from Exit 25).

photo: compost pile on a lawn with trees with the inn in the background.

Third, several regional destinations, for example, the University complex in Alfred, new distribution center in Olean, under construction as of the time of the trip, medical center which has recently been expanded clearly benefit from the logistical advantages of the I-86 corridor. Not only are the customers and employees of these facilities better served because of I-86 improvements, but also, operations of the facilities are easier. For example, the medical center requires nearly continuous service by suppliers of equipment, medical supplies, etc.

NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University.

photo: parking lot and college building

New distribution center being built on Franklin St. in Olean.

photo: a building from the roadside

Medical Center/Physical Rehab Center next Olean General Hospital

photo: medical center and parking lot with cars

Recently completed wing/entrance addition at Olean General Hospital.

photo: hospital building taken from the far side of a two lane road

In Olean, some fairly unique development is occurring. A suburban style shopping mall and a community college, with enrollment expected to reach 1000, has been sited in the Olean central business district. The impact of I-86 on this development is somewhat indirect. Olean has been coping with a declining manufacturing employment base for a decade and is clearly motivated to try innovative steps to promote more economic activity. The fact that I-86 provides good access to the community college is fortunate and may be a factor if this development is successful, however, decision making on the site was likely done at the New York State Education Department level in cooperation with the New York State legislature and, if so, the college would probably have been sited where it is now even if I-86 had not been designated.

Olean Center Mall in downtown Olean next to Jamestown Community College Campus on North Union St.

photo: mall building from across a field

Jamestown Community College Campus, North Union St. in downtown Olean.

photo: entrance to a college campus

Fourth, substantial development of a more traditional type is occurring in the corridor. For example, an insurance office has been opened near Cuba, a storage facility in Olean, construction related businesses in Olean, new businesses expanding the business district of Olean, and construction of a major new business complex in Olean was underway in August 2003. It is possible that the designation of I-86 made this latter development possible; however, it is also possible that the development would have occurred anyway. In either case, the access provided by I-86 will be important if this development is successful. In this regard, Allegany County is establishing an office, convenient to I-86, to promote development. An example of a business success that is probably not connected to I-86 is Advanced Monolithic Ceramics, formerly a tenant in a business incubator facility in Olean and now owner of the building.

Insurance office facility next to I-86 at Exit 28 in Cuba.

photo: distant shot of a small office building with a broad lawn

New storage facility, Franklin St. in Olean.

photo: storage facility with a broad lawn

Concrete mixer body installation business with new tire retail and equipment rental/sales center in background, Franklin St.

photo: broad lawn with a building in the background

Concrete mixer bodies ready for installation.

photo: broad lawn with a building in the background

Jamestown Mattress (in background), Cellular One and Enterprise Car Rental businesses in two recently constructed buildings on West State St. in Olean (approximately 2 miles from Exit 25)

photo: two lane road with cars with a strip mall in the background

Site preparation work on Constitution Ave. for new Convention/Conference Center in Olean, 1 to 1 ½ miles from Exit 25. This site is near the "big box" area that held Wal-Mart, Home Depot and BJ's Shopping Club.

photo: dirt at a construction site

Former private school now belonging to Allegany County IDA. Future plans include incubator facility and county office space.

photo: school building with large dirt parking lot

Former incubator facility that is now owned and used by Advanced Monolithic Ceramics, one of the early tenants.

photo: commercial building with parking lot

Fifth, a number of developments are clearly related to transportation in the corridor. These include, a newly planned truck stop near Jamestown and new motel near Jamestown, a new motel near Cuba and some travel related businesses in Allegany.

Future truck stop being built at Exit 12, Route 60/I-86 Interchange in Jamestown.

photo: a field with a trailer and a truck

New Comfort Inn near Exit 12 in Jamestown.

photo: a gas station with a motel in the background

Coach Light Motel ¼ mile from I-86, Exit 28 in Cuba.

photo: dirt lot with a motel in the background

Wilson Farms store next to a new carwash in Allegany.

photo: gas station with a parking lot and a carwash

In summary, the trends discussed in the I-86 report (which was completed in mid 2002) have continued into mid 2003. However, key elements that would increase the likelihood of economic development success, for example the improvement of the pavement on mainline I-86 have not been completed. On behalf of the FHWA, I appreciate the fact that the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board is continuing to monitor this situation.

Post Trip Events Regarding the I-86 Pride Project near Angelica, New York.

Groups within the I-86 corridor have been seeking ways to develop the corridor as a brand and a destination. One initial step toward that general goal has been to provide some landscaping augmentation that physically emphasizes the identity of exits along I-86.

The second image after the map shows what the entrance to Angelica looked like in early August 2003.

A local business, Hyland Facility Associates, donated $10,000 to the Town of Angelica I-86 PRIDE committee to support a beautification project near the I-86 off ramp serving the town.

On October 3, 2003 the beautification project was dedicated.

I-86 PRIDE - Exit 31, Angelica

photo: a field at an exit in Angelica

Larry Shilling - General Manager, Hyland Facility Associates presenting $10,000 check to Sue Weigman - Chairwoman, Angelica PRIDE committee and Councilwoman, Town of Angelica.
L to R: Sue Weigman; Christel Sauer - Operations Manager, East Wind Landscape Nursery; Kevin Demick - Highway Superintendent, Town of Angelica; Robert Jones - Councilman, Town of Angelica; Craig Schlau - Supervisor, Town of Angelica; and Larry Shilling.

photo: six people holding a large check

I-86 PRIDE sign erected on Exit 31, eastbound off ramp to acknowledge the Town of Angelica's project.

photo: two road workers putting up a road sign

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Exit 31, Angelica PRIDE project.

L to R: Holding Ribbon
Edmund Burdick - Allegany Co. Legislator; Sue Myers - Allegany Co. Leg. & Southern Tier West Transportation Committee Chair; Sue Weigman - Angelica PRIDE Chair & Town of Angelica Councilwoman; Larry Shilling - General Manager, Hyland Facility Associates; Assemblywoman Catherine Young; Craig Schlau - Supervisor, Town of Angelica; Senator Patricia McGee; Peter White - Director, NYS DOT Region 6; Curt Crandall - Allegany Co. Legislator.

Back Row:
Don Rychnowski - Executive Director, Southern Tier West RPDB; Kevin Demick - Highway Superintendent, Town of Angelica; Christel Sauer - Operations Manager, East Wind Landscape Nursery; Robert Jones - Councilman, Town of Angelica.

photo: nine people holding a blue ribbon with four people in the background.

The October 6, 2003 Wellsville Daily Report had an article on this event mentioning the half dozen businesses that contributed to the project as well as having comments from local people and personnel of the Southern Tier West Regional Planning and Development Board. The October 9, 2003 Alfred Sun had a similar article which also mentioned progress in many other communities toward completing beautification projects similar to the one in Angelica.

Updated: 5/4/2012
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