Interstate 86 (Eastern)
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.
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.
Interstate 86 was originally established by AASHTO on June 23, 1969 along a freeway corridor connecting Hartford, Connecticut with Sturbridge, Massachusetts occupied by I-84 at the time. Beginning at I-91 near Wethersfield, I-86 overlaid a portion of the CT 3 freeway (former I-491) to the CT 2 freeway at East Hartford, with an unconstructed section extending northeast to meet I-84 at Manchester. I-86 followed I-84’s course from this point northeast along the Wilbur Cross Highway into Massachusetts, ending at the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) north of Sturbridge. With I-86 overtaking the former course of I-84 from Manchester, I-84 was redirected eastward from I-86 along a freeway to Bolton, and ultimately toward 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.
Signs for I-86 remained posted along the Wilbur Cross Highway between I-84 at Manchester and Massachusetts until plans for the extension of I-84 to Providence were officially dropped. I-84 was reestablished along its pre-1969 course while I-86 was formally removed. The freway spur between Manchester and Bolton was assigned as I-384. 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 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 exchange 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 to Harriman vary between sections ready for designation and those still with at-grade intersections.7
- East End – Windsor, NY
- West End – near Harborcreek, PA
- Branch Routes – 0
- Total Mileage – 223.39
Pennsylvania – 6.99
- Cities – None
- Junctions –
New York – 216.40
- Cities – Jamestown, Olean, Hornell, Bath, Corning, Elmira
Source: December 31, 2017 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-86 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
Source: NYSDOT 2002 Traffic Volume Report
East of the original circle interchange between the Southern Tier Expressway and U.S. 15 at Painted Post, New York 17 defaulted onto Dennison Parkway, a congested route through Downtown Corning.
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 reconstruct 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, replaced bridges over the Chenango River and redesigned the interchange with NY 7. The majority of work ran through December 31, 2015.
Phase II of the Prospect Mountain Interchange Reconstruction runs from spring 2016 through fall 2020. Work during this phase includes reconstructing Exit 4 with new bridges & ramp improvements, and additional bridge replacements along NY 17.
Former Eastern Terminus – Elmira, New York
Future Eastern Terminus – Harriman, New York
West End – east of Erie, Pennsylvania
- “I- 86 , Rt. 15 interchange under way.” The Leader (Corning, NY), January 7, 2004.
- “Route 17 And Interstate 86 Plans.” WBNG-TV (Binghamton), October 2, 2003.
- “Kamikaze Curve fixes won’t affect homes, park.” Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton), October 3, 2003.
- “Kahler interchange grand opening today” The Leader (Corning, NY), July 7, 2004.
- “Ten-mile I-86 segment near wrap-up: Group updated on progress, costs” by Todd McAdam, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, April 8, 2005.
- “Long Stretch of Route 17 Becoming I-86 Today.” The Buffalo News, December 3, 1999.
- NYSDOT | I-86 – Project Map.
- “Interchange complete” The Leader (Corning, NY), August 14, 2008.
- “Governors Rejoice As Highway’s Final Section Opens.” The Buffalo News, October 3, 1997.
Page updated June 8, 2015.