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Construction now underway to 'completely rebuild' NYS Thruway through Seneca Nation territory

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

A major construction project to repair the four-mile stretch of I-90 that runs through the Seneca Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory has begun, the New York State Thruway Authority announced Tuesday.

The announcement followed a September 2019 agreement between New York State and the Seneca Nation of Indians that allowed some temporary repairs to proceed after a years-long impasse over regional casino revenues. The new project will be the first major construction on the stretch of Thruway on Seneca land since 2003, according to Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll, and the first complete rebuild since 1987.

“The magnitude of this project, as we all know, is far overdue,” Driscoll said Tuesday at the Authority’s Silver Creek Maintenance Station just off of I-90. “I’m here to reiterate that the Thruway is delivering on our promise that we made last year to reconstruct and rebuild the Thruway, which was in major disrepair.”

The $20.8 million project is expected to be completed by late July of this year. Until then, Driscoll said crews of 50 construction workers, including some members of the Seneca Nation, will be working in 24-hour shifts six days per week. Union Concrete and Construction Corp. of West Seneca won the contract to complete the work, which will include removing five inches of the existing asphalt, repairing the concrete base of the road, reconstructing roadway shoulders, replacing guiderails and other safety upgrades.

“When it’s complete, drivers are going to be essentially driving on a brand new section of highway, and that’s going to be a reliable roadway for many years to come,” Driscoll said, adding when asked by reporters that the rebuild should stay in top condition for at least 10 years.

However, asked whether the project could have been less expensive if it had been executed earlier, Driscoll said that’s not something he would speculate on.

“We are happy to see the progress on this important project,” said Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr., in a written statement provided to WBFO. “The Nation is committed to working closely with the Thruway Authority to ensure the safe and timely completion of the repairs for those who utilize the Thruway as they travel through the Cattaraugus Territory.”

Motorists will also once again be able to continue traveling at 65 mph on the stretch of new roadway instead of lowering their speed to 45 mph. In the meantime, Driscoll asked drivers to exercise caution around construction workers and obey speed zones.

“[We] just ask for peoples’ patience just a little bit longer. It’ll be over by this summer.”

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