New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald announced that a 15.8-mile portion of Route 17 in Chemung County has been designated by the Federal Highway Administration as Interstate 86. The designation comes after an extensive rehabilitation project to upgrade the road to federal interstate standards.

“Upgrading Route 17 to interstate standards will improve safety and make traveling through the southern corridor more efficient for commuters, tourists and commercial drivers,” McDonald said.  “The designation of the Elmira-Chemung portion of highway as Interstate 86 extends the vital link from Tioga County west to the Pennsylvania line along New York’s southern border.”

A total of 15.8 miles in the towns of Ashland, Chemung and Elmira, Chemung County, has been designated between Exit 56 and the Tioga County line. A portion of this stretch already met interstate standards, and the other 6.5-mile portion underwent a significant rehabilitation project in order to qualify for interstate standards.

The 381-mile highway stretches from the Pennsylvania state line in western New York, to Interstate 87 in the Hudson Valley. More than half of Route 17 has already been designated as I-86, with just more than 200 miles of highways upgraded to interstate standards. The remaining 186 miles of Route 17 are in various stages of project development from preliminary design to construction.