State tells Senecas it's ready to start fixing the Thruway 'as soon as tomorrow'

Sep 16, 2019

The New York State Thruway Authority has made an overture toward the Seneca Nation in the continuing dispute over roadwork on a stretch of Thruway the runs through Seneca terrority.

Republican lawmakers, including Southern Tier congressman Tom Reed, have been critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, for prolonging repairs to the bumpy section of the Thruway, which is marked by 'rough road' signs. Republicans claim the governor is playing politics, because the Senecas have stopped making casino payments to municipalities.

The Thruway Authority on Sunday issued another request to the Nation "to undertake critally important milling and road restoration," saying it is "ready to begin work as soon as tomorrow."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"Equally frustrating was the prolonged ordeal involving federally mandated bridge inspection work and debris removal on the same 3-mile stretch of the Thruway," said Thruway Authority Matthew Driscoll in his statement to the Senecas and media. "While we are pleased this matter was ultimately resolved, the nearly two-year timeline it took to accomplish this resolution was unacceptable and it should not be repeated."

The Federal Highway Authority ended the impasse by conducting the necessary inspections. In response to Driscoll's letter, the Senecas issued their own letter, saying the bridge work inspection "is a perfect example of how the Thruway Authority refuses to cooperate with the Seneca Nation." They said bringing in the feds actually was at the Nation's request.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

In addition, "there are larger transportation infrastructure needs to be addressed," said the Nation. The Senecas said, as far back as 2017, the Thruway Authority has been canceling and rescheduling meetings, while the Nation remains ready to get back to the table for discussions.

"If the State is finally ready to take its obligation to public safety seriously and come to the table to address the many transportation-related issues that exist on Seneca Territory in a comprehensive way, the Nation remains ready to have that dialogue," they said, in a statement.