Interstate 86 (Eastern)

Daniel Patrick Moynihan Interstate Highway

Routing

Originally New York 17, the Eastern Interstate 86 corridor was given high priority status in 1998, which led to interstate status. Designated in 1999, Interstate 86 currently extends from just east of Erie, Pennsylvania to the Pennsylvania state line at Waverly and from I-81 in Binghamton ten miles east to Windsor. The remaining portion of the route is signed as New York 17, awaiting upgrades to Interstate standards or the placement of I-86 shields. Specifically, key improvements are required in the Binghamton and Catskills areas.

Ultimately, Interstate 86 will be signed across the Southern Tier, from Interstate 90 in Pennsylvania to Interstate 87 (New York Thruway) at Harriman, New York. Locales served by the routeinclude Erie, Jamestown, Olean, Corning, Elmira, Binghamton, the lower Catskills region and Middletown. The entire route is known as the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Interstate Highway (per SAFETEA-LU Section 1929).

High Priority Corridor

Proposed Interstate 86 in Pennsylvania and New York is part of High Priority Corridor 36: New York and Pennsylvania State Route 17.

History

Interstate 86 was established in the eastern United States previously before the route in New York was created. The original route, approved by AASHTO on June 23, 1969, entailed a portion of the Connecticut 3 freeway from Wethersfield, south of Hartford, to the Connecticut 2 freeway at East Hartford and an unconstructed extension northeast from CT 2 to then-Interstate 84 at Manchester. This route was previously designated as Interstate 491. The remainder of the route northeast from Manchester along the Wilbur Cross Highway replaced Interstate 84, as I-84 was redirected eastward to Providence, Rhode Island.

The section of Interstate 86 that replaced I-491 between Wethersfield and I-84 at Manchester was decommissioned by AASHTO on July 13, 1976. Cancellation of the freeway from CT 2 northward through Glastonbury and East Hartford preceded the I-86 removal.

I-86 remained posted from I-84 at the west end of the Manchester bypass to Massachusetts until the route of I-84 east from Hartford to Providence was dropped. This led to the establishment of Interstate 384 around Manchester and the replacement of I-86 with a realigned I-84. AASHTO approved these changes on May 23, 1984.

The Interstate 86 designation in upstate New York was approved by AASHTO on November 6, 1998 as a 430 mile route, with the stipulation that it be signed as a future corridor until the various segments of the freeway were brought up to Interstate standards. Completion of the Southern Tier Expressway (New York 17 and Pennsylvania 17) occurred at a ribbon cutting ceremony held by the governors of New York and Pennsylvania on October 2, 1997. Work finished included the $19.1-million construction of 9.3 miles of the two westbound lanes from Sherman, New York to the Pennsylvania state line and $14.9-million in construction on the seven mile stretch through Erie County. The Super-Two stretch of NY 17 in western New York was finished in the early 1980s.9 The westernmost 177 miles of the route in New York through to Exit 48 in East Corning was officially upgraded to Interstate 86 on December 3, 1999 following dedication ceremonies held in Belfast and Corning.6

Within the village of Painted Post, Interstate 86 meets the northern terminus of both Interstate 99 and U.S. 15. Originally constructed in the late 1950s as a traffic circle, the U.S. 15 and New York 17 junction was converted to a diamond interchange in 1987.

In September 1997, studies began on ways to improve the interchange and the nearby U.S. 15 ramps at Gang Mills. NYSDOT followed with preparations on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) in October 1998. This document was complete by July 6, 2001. By August 22 of the same year "Alternative 14" was deemed the preferred alternative. This option was modified after receiving input from the public in a December 6, 2001 Public Information Meeting.

June 3, 2002 marked the approval from FHWA to NYSDOT, allowing the department to proceed with the final design for the project. Construction proceeded to upgrade the exchange into a high speed directional T interchange. The $41 million first phase of the project commenced in November 2003. It included work to upgrade U.S. 15 to Interstate standards and build the diamond interchange at Hamilton Street.1 The second phase reconstructed a two mile stretch of I-86 through the interchange with U.S. 15 and rebuilt the railroad bridge over the Conhocton River, with $11 million in work running through spring 2005.1 The third and final phase started in spring 2005 and focused on building the flyovers between the two freeways and ramps to Robert Dann Drive. Work ran through August 13, 2008, when a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the finish of the $141-million interchange.8

In February 2004, the FHWA approved the addition of eight more miles of I-86, thus extending the Interstate from Corning east to New York 14 / Exit 52 in Horseheads. Upgrades from Horseheads east to Exit 56 in Elmira resulted in the signing of the next section of I-86 on March 28, 2008.7

East from Exit 56 in Elmira to Exit 60 at Waverly and South Waverly, Pennsylvania was incorporated to Interstate 86 on July 31, 2013. Further east during the summer of 2005, upgrade work commenced on New York 17 around Owego and also between Windsor and Hancock.5 Funds for this purpose along with other sections of future Interstate 86 were allocated in the 2005 SAFETEA-LU. The stretch from Waverly to Exit 67 awaits I-86 designation, while work through Binghamton remains under construction.

East from Interstate 81, a 9.9-mile section between Kirkwood and Windsor was designated I-86 on May 1, 2006 (AASHTO approved this in May 2008). Beyond there, the 121-miles through to Harriman vary between sections ready for designation and those still with at-grade intersections.7

Parallel U.S. Routes

Interstate 86 does not follow any specific U.S. route with the exception of a small portion of U.S. 6 near the eventual eastern terminus.

Planned Improvements

Between 2001 and 2009, the state of New York upgraded various segments of New York 17 to Interstate standards. With the western segment of Interstate 86 between Erie and Corning already Interstate standard, attention was directed toward the central and eastern segments. This included required improvements at Elmira, the "Kamikaze Curve" in Binghamton, and near the Catskills Mountains. New York State Department of Transportation anticipated that this entire corridor would meet Interstate standards and be fully signed as Interstate 86 by 2009. The total cost to upgrade New York 17 to Interstate 86 was expected to run between $700 to $800 million. Ted Bennett, an I-86 Chairman, hoped to see the entire Interstate 86 project complete by 2008. He believed that if completed by that date, the region would benefit in $3.2 billion growth.2

Work to upgrade Interstate 86 in Chemung County was completed by November 2012. That work included the $7.96-million interchange constructed at Kahler Road, which opened after two years of work on July 7, 2004.4 Construction to address the problem at Kamikaze Curve, the location where Interstate 81 and New York 17 merge together north of Downtown Binghamton, was to go to bid in May of 2006 (the project was eventually let on September 15, 2011). Roadwork on the $90 million project was to begin three months later and take about two years to complete.3 Now split into separate phases, The Prospect Mountain project, costing $148-million, includes work to reconstruction NY 17 to Interstate standards from Exit 72 (Mygatt Street) to New York 7 (Exit 4 on the overlap with I-81). Work reconfigured Exit 72, replaces bridges over the Chenango River and redesigns the interchange with NY 7. The majority of work runs through December 31, 2015.

Phase II of the Prospect Mountain Interchange Reconstruction runs from late 2015 through fall 2018 at a cost of $164 million. Work here reconstructs Exit 4 with new bridges and ramp improvements.

Highway Guides

Western Terminus - Interstate 90 - east of Erie, Pennsylvania
Perspective from Interstate 86 west
Westbound Interstate 86, one mile outside the terminus with Interstate 90. The junction with Interstate 90 features access to both east and westbound. The last exit on Interstate 86 (only one in Pennsylvania besides the terminus) is with Pennsylvania 89. This state route also happens to intersect Interstate 90 at Exit 41, the next eastbound exit. So in effect, travelers that would use Interstate 86 to Interstate 90 east would travel five miles out of the way to access Interstate 90 east over taking Pennsylvania 89 north. This does not take into consideration trucking traffic and potential restrictions on the state route. Photo taken by Jim Teresco (07/01).
These overhead panels for Interstate 90 are posted just before Interstate 86 west concludes. A sweeping ramp takes Interstate 86 onto Interstate 90 westbound. Sixteen miles to the west is Interstate 79 and the city of Erie. Photo taken 10/01.
An end shield is posted for Interstate 86. However, the shield coincides with milepost 0, placing it at the beginning of the Exit 1B return ramp to Interstate 90 eastbound. Visible to the left is the gore point for the exit. Photo taken 10/01.
Perspective from Interstate 86 east
The first eastbound Interstate 86 reassurance shield. There are 26 miles to Lake Chautuaqua and 36 miles to Jamestown. This stretch of Interstate 86, originally signed as New York 17, was opened to traffic by the late 1980s. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (12/08/02).
Perspective from Interstate 90 west
This two-mile advance sign on westbound Interstate 90 is the first posted for the pending junction with Interstate 86. The control city for eastbound Interstate 86 is Jamestown, New York. Photo taken by Chris Elbert (07/06).
Westbound Interstate 90 approaches Exit 37, Interstate 86 east to Jamestown, New York. Note the use of Clearview font on this sign, which is rapidly becoming more common in Pennsylvania. Photo taken by Chris Elbert (07/06).
A ramp returning traffic to Interstate 86 eastbound from Interstate 90 west is offered at Exit 37. The ramp itself is most likely in place for commercial trucking interests. Photos taken by Douglas Kerr (12/08/02) and Chris Elbert (07/06).
Perspective from Interstate 90 east
The first advance signage for Interstate 86 found on eastbound Interstate 90 in this upcoming exits sign for Exit 35, Pennsylvania 531 south to Phillipsville and north to Harborcreek (and U.S. 20) and Exit 37, Interstate 86 east to Jamestown, New York. Photo taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006).
Eastbound Interstate 90 reaches Exit 35, Pennsylvania 531 south to Phillipsville and north to Harborcreek (and U.S. 20). The next interchange along eastbound is Exit 37, Interstate 86 east to Jamestown, New York. Photo taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006).
One mile outside of the Interstate 86/90 split on eastbound Interstate 90 is this Clearview guide sign for Exit 37, Interstate 86 east. Note the 1998 photo, which shows the original Pennsylvania 17 designation before Interstate 86 was approved. When Interstate 86 was finally christened in Pennsylvania, it removed the second Pennsylvania 17 designation in the state. The original Pennsylvania 17 is a mountain back road between Blain and Liverpool to the north of Harrisburg. Photos taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006) and David Greenberger (07/30/98).
Interstate 90 eastbound, one-quarter mile from Exit 37/Interstate 86 east. Jamestown, the westbound control point for Interstate 86 throughout the Southern Tier of New York west of Corning, is 35 miles east. There are seven miles and one interchange between Interstate 90 and the New York State line at New York/Pennsylvania 426. For a short duration, old Pennsylvania 17 signage stood on Interstate 90 eastbound at the Interstate 86 split (see 2000 photo). Photos taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006) and David Greenberger (04/00).
Interstate 86 branches eastward as Interstate 90 continues to straddle the Lake Erie coastline northeastward. Another 69 miles to Interstate 190, the Niagara Section of the New York Thruway system into downtown Buffalo, via Interstate 90 east. Photo taken by Tim Kubat (April-June 2006).
Former Eastern Terminus - New York 14/Exit 52 - Elmira, New York
Perspective from Interstate 86 & New York 17 east
End Interstate 86 shield at the former eastern terminus, which was at the Chemung/Steuben County line as of 2002. The end later moved to Exit 52, New York 14 north. The city of Elmira is another ten miles to the east. Photo taken by David Greenberger (04/00).
Eastbound Interstate 86 & New York 17 approach Exit 52, New York 14. The freeway ended after the interchange and entered a construction zone near Horseheads. Photo taken 07/01/05.
Entering Horseheads, eastbound New York 17 approached Center Street. Construction was evident, and a detour was in place at this time. Photo taken 07/01/05.
Beyond the New York 13 interchange and after the Horseheads construction zone, this Future Interstate 86 shield was posted on eastbound New York 17/Southern Tier Expressway. Photo taken 07/01/05.
Perspective from Interstate 86 & New York 17 west
As of 2005, the section around Horseheads north of Elmira was under construction. Here, New York 17 (Future Interstate 86) west and New York 13 split. Photo taken 07/01/05.
Sharp turns and traffic signals were eliminated in favor of a freeway to freeway interchange with New York 13. Photo taken 07/01/05.
On a detour alignment, New York 17 west was signed for the first time as To Interstate 86 in Horseheads. Photo taken 07/01/05.
Interstate 86, New York 17 and Southern Tier Expressway shields on Interstate 86 westbound in East Corning. This was the first reassurance shield for I-86. Original New York 17 passed through Corning mostly as a freeway with downtown as the only gap. Because of this, a new modern bypass was constructed to the north of Corning in the mid 1990s. Interstate 86 was able to extend east of U.S. 15 past Corning thanks to this segment. Photo taken 07/01/05.
Shortly thereafter, Interstate 86 & New York 17 west and New York 14 split. From here west to Interstate 90 in Pennsylvania, Interstate 86 is fully signed; New York 17 is deemphasized. Photo taken 07/01/05.
Future Eastern Terminus - Interstate 87 - Harriman, New York
Perspective from New York 17 east
Future Interstate 86 & New York 17 eastbound at Exit 130/U.S. 6, Harriman. This is the last mainline exit for New York 17 as it departs the Quickway via Exit 131 one-half mile ahead. Interstate 86 will continue to the New York Thruway/Interstate 87 after Exit 131. Photo taken by David Greenberger (05/30/00).
New York 17 departs the Quickway after a 400 mile relationship. Exit 131 also features the southern terminus of New York 32, a north-south highway between this interchange and Newburgh 15 miles to the north. For New York 17 east, the highway parallels Interstate 87 south to Suffern where it enters New Jersey. The highway is a standard at-grade roadway from this point to the Garden State. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (11/00).
Future Interstate 86 ends as traffic enters the New York Thruway system of Interstate 87. Northbound travelers face a large toll plaza while southbound is offered a free ride to Interstate 287/Exit 15. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (11/00).
Perspective from Interstate 87 north
Interstate 87/New York Thruway northbound at Exit 16/Future Interstate 86 westbound. This interchange features Harriman as the control point due to the proximity of the town to the interchange itself. More accurately the signage should reflect Binghamton or at least Middletown (where New York 17 intersects Interstate 84). U.S. 6 links with New York 17 between Harriman and Goshen for a 14 mile overlap. Photo taken by Douglas Kerr (08/31/02).

Sources:

  1. "I- 86 , Rt. 15 interchange under way." The Leader (Corning, NY), January 7, 2004.
  2. "Route 17 And Interstate 86 Plans." WBNG-TV (Binghamton), October 2, 2003.
  3. "Kamikaze Curve fixes won't affect homes, park." Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton), October 3, 2003.
  4. "Kahler interchange grand opening today" The Leader (Corning, NY), July 7, 2004.
  5. "Ten-mile I-86 segment near wrap-up: Group updated on progress, costs" by Todd McAdam, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, April 8, 2005.
  6. "Long Stretch of Route 17 Becoming I-86 Today." The Buffalo News, December 3, 1999.
  7. NYSDOT | I-86 - Project Map.
  8. "Interchange complete" The Leader (Corning, NY), August 14, 2008.
  9. "Governors Rejoice As Highway's Final Section Opens." The Buffalo News, October 3, 1997.

Page Updated June 8, 2015.