I-86 construction work ends for winter

John Zick

Two major highway projects on Interstate 86 are wrapping up for the winter, which should mean fewer delays for travelers.

According to the state Department of Transportation, crews have or soon will stop work for the winter in major construction areas in Coopers Plains and just east of Elmira.

In both locations, construction has been reduced traffic to a single lane in both directions, but with construction ending for the season, all four lanes will be open for travel, DOT spokeswoman Dorothy Nisbet said.

In Coopers Plains, crews have been working to replace the County Route 26 bridge at Exit 42, as well as to rebuild portions of the traveling lanes. Work began earlier this year.

According to Nisbet, the Coopers project is nearly entirely complete, though some minor work must still be done in the spring. She said more information on the status of the project will be released in the near future.

In Chemung County, crews have been working for years to upgrade six miles of Route 17 to interstate highway standards from Exit 56 in Elmira east to the county line.

The project near is still a year away from being completed. There, crews have rebuilt traveling lanes, built bridges and constructed access roads in an effort to bring the roadway up to interstate highway standards.

Once finished, the six-mile stretch of roadway will be eligible for interstate status – I-86 will then run from I-90 in Erie, Pa., to near the Chemung-Tioga line. Eventually, the DOT hopes to make the roadway interstate eligible all the way to I-87 downstate.