Legislature committees seek Route 219 funding

by Rick Miller, Salamanca Press

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LITTLE VALLEY — Cattaraugus County lawmakers are looking to add their voices to supporters of a resurrected plan to start building a Route 219 Expressway from its southern end.

Cattaraugus County Legislator Joseph Snyder, R-Ischua, is the sponsor of the resolution to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to provide state funding for Section 12 on the proposed expressway that has stalled for the past six years over an inadequate environmental impact statement.

The resolution was approved by the Development and Agriculture and Finance committees. It will come before the full Legislature on Oct. 28.

Snyder told members of the Development and Agriculture Committee on Wednesday that the resolution is similar to one the Legislature approved about a year ago.

He said the difference now is new New York State Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) personnel and an indication that the governor wants to do something to spur Western New York development outside Buffalo and Erie County.

Snyder said that according to Continental One, the group lobbying for completion of a four-lane highway between Toronto and Miami, the first section, a bridge across the Allegheny River connecting to Interstate 86 east of Salamanca and 2.5 miles of highway, would cost $95 million. The state would have to pay $20 million of that, he said.

“A year ago, D.O.T. personnel were not in favor of it,” Snyder admitted.

He thought that the new commissioner, Matthew Driscoll, may have some new ideas, particularly since Pennsylvania and Virginia are rapidly adding sections to Route 219 in those states.

Another legislator, James J. Snyder, R-Olean, Joseph Snyder’s father, reminded lawmakers that any construction involving the Allegany Territory would mean negotiations with the Seneca Nation of Indians.

James Snyder, the Legislature vice chairman, is an adopted member of the Seneca’s Hawk Clan. He said he did not speak for the Senecas, but he sees opportunities by starting at the I-86 end of the proposed expressway.

“You can’t cross the Seneca Nation without negotiating,” the vice chairman said, “I think they would be very interested in completing that section.”

Previously, D.O.T. plans called for extending the expressway southward from Springville in sections. The U.S. Highway Administration said the expressway couldn’t go south of Ashford Hollow without an agreement between New York and the Senecas.

Later, the D.O.T.’s application for a wetlands permit was rejected by the Federal Highway Administration, and the state was told it must complete a supplemental environmental impact statement for the entire 28-mile route from Springville to Salamanca before seeking more federal funding.

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