She says the DOT is prepared to move forward immediately with a $29 million project to reconstruct 11.5 miles of Interstate 86 in Seneca territory located in Cattaraugus County. The project was stalled when Seneca leaders demanded "exorbitant new fees for work within the territory" and failed to negotiate with New York State. If a resolution cannot be promptly reached, funds for this and other projects will be reprogrammed to address other important transportation needs in Western New York.
"We are here today to show that this is a priority project for the State of New York and for the Department of Transportation," Commissioner McDonald said. "DOT is prepared to immediately advance the I-86 project, which will rehabilitate and improve safety on this important highway while creating more than 450 jobs in the process. This project will benefit all residents – Seneca and non-Indian alike – as well as the motoring public. We need to get this done."
The DOT will place in escrow the standard project monitoring and other fees, totaling $1.7 million to be paid to the Seneca Nation for work on roads that cross their territory. The fees will be deducted from $400 million owed to the state and localities by the Seneca from their $4.65 billion in Casino profits.
"We are ready to proceed with I-86 repairs that will improve transportation infrastructure within the Seneca Nation," said Commissioner McDonald, "and have notified the contractor to be prepared to deploy personnel and equipment to get the job started before the close of this construction season.
"We historically have had a good working relationship with the SNI," said Commissioner McDonald. "And we look forward to continuing that relationship and working in the mutual interests of the Nation and the State."
NYSDOT expects construction will be completed in 2013.
Future transportation projects planned for the infrastructure within the SNI territory include work slated for next year to replace the bridge carrying Routes 5 and 20 over Cattaraugus Creek; the next phase of I-86 resurfacing from Salamanca (Exit 20) to Route 219 (Exit 23); and general maintenance repairs to roads and bridges as necessary.