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Now That I-90 Is Being Fixed, It’s Time For An Agreement Over I-86

Repairs to three miles of I-90 between Eden-Angola and Silver Creek are good news to drivers who have taken too many rim-rattling, teeth-chattering rides over that stretch of road.

The work will be done in phases, with completion possible in eight to 10 weeks if the weather cooperates. If winter weather arrives early, the project will be completed in the spring.

Of course, the weather shouldn’t have played a role in this project at all were it not for the stubbornness of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Seneca Nation of Indians. While the Seneca Nation has said publicly that it was willing to discuss an agreement with the state to allow the I-90 repairs to proceed, the New York Post reported last week that it had received documents showing the state and Seneca Nation have been disagreeing over repairs to the area since May 2014. State officials asked for permission in 2017 but the repairs weren’t made. In the interim, the governor’s comments tended to inflame the situation rather than assuage the longstanding tensions between the Seneca Nation and the state. The Senecas, meanwhile, have chosen to continue fighting the continuance of casino revenue sharing payments even though an arbitration panel ruled 2-1 that the payments should continue from year 14 through 21 of the 21-year agreement. The revenue fight has hurt both the state and the local communities that host Seneca Nation casinos, further inflaming tensions between the state and Seneca Nation.

It is good, then, that cooler heads have prevailed once the Thruway Authority and nation officials began corresponding in earnest about two weeks ago.

One wonders if the attitudes would have softened were it not for the regular criticism of County Executive George Borrello and U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning. Borrello and Corning have been vocal publicly about the need to resolve the dispute over the I-90 repairs at a time when many Democrats weren’t talking about the issue. It was Reed and Borrello who focused the public’s attention on the situation and it was Reed who helped mediate the agreement last week.

While Cuomo and his inner circle may not appreciate Reed’s tactics, we note that they were effective. Public pressure to fix I-90 broke a stranglehold built by nearly five years of bluster and fiery rhetoric.

Now that I-90 is going to be fixed, it’s time for the state and Seneca Nation to reach a similar agreement to fix I-86 in Salamanca.

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