The Road to I-86

By Matt Markham

May 6, 2011 Updated May 6, 2011 at 6:33 PM EDT

Town of Liberty, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Construction is happening in various locations along Route 17 for the highway's upgrade to Interstate 86. That means big projects, and big changes.

Plans should be submitted this month on the Prospect Mountain interchange of Route 17 with Interstate 81.

Private contractors will bid on those plans in September. They move merge points back further so drivers don't have to chose their exit on the curve.

Bridges will also be replaced. The project is estimated to cost $175 million.

80 miles from Prospect Mountain, there are prospects of a highway to come in Sullivan County near Liberty.

"It's a $95 million project with thirteen new bridges," said Jack Williams, Director of Region 9 for the Department of Transportation.

The Parksville project covers over a nearly three mile stretch.

"It's a little bit more complex, what we're doing down in Parksville, because of the new alignment, and the way we had to shift it, and the way we had to work around environmental sensitivities," Williams said.

When the I-86 project is complete in Parksville, it will bypass the small hamlet there. What is now Route 17 will still be accessible after it is turned over to the county.

To build the interchange that will service the area, 1.5 million cubic yards of rock had to be removed, and it's 120 feet high."

Of Route 17's 380 miles, 200 have already become Interstate 86.

There aren't many places where the scale of the construction is this impressive.

This plan came out of four drafts the State DOT drafted.

"To develop a project of this magnitude takes nearly ten years to be able to do that. All the public outreach that's involved, we have to solicit a lot of input," Williams said.

Work is about 70% complete here. The hope is that by this time next year, you'll be driving down this stretch of highway.

Construction began in Parksville in 2009. There are nearly one hundred construction workers currently at the Parksville site.