Project Promotes Travel and Tourism throughout Region and Builds upon 2017 $10 Million Downtown Revitalization Initiative Investment for Watkins Glen
Investment Complements "Southern Tier Soaring" - The Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy
Governor Andrew M. Cuomotoday announced work has been completed on a $7.2 million project to resurface and improve State Route 14 from the Village of Watkins Glen to the Town of Reading in Schuyler County. The project eases travel and enhances safety along a vital connector that runs along the western side of Seneca Lake and provides access to the area's many popular destinations, including the Village of Watkins Glen. The paving and infrastructure improvements build upon a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award previously awarded to the village.
"Watkins Glen is one of New York State's most popular destinations and these important investments will promote even more tourism and make it easier for residents and visitors alike to experience all that the village and surrounding area have to offer," Governor Cuomo said. "Whether they come to see NASCAR, take in the breathtaking scenery or explore the region's wine trails, visitors will not be disappointed."
The project resurfaced 15.8 lane miles of road along State Route 14 from the Village of Reading to the Village of Watkins Glen, restoring a smooth riding surface and enhancing safety. The project also installed new sidewalks and traffic signals with accessible, pedestrian push buttons throughout the village.
A gateway entrance to Watkins Glen was created on the northern end of the village that includes raised islands in the median that calm traffic and slow vehicles, enhancing safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. In coordination with funding from the DRI Initiative, the project also included installation of foundations for new decorative lighting along Main Street and preparations for a new welcome sign at the northern end of the village.
To promote the village's auto racing history, pedestrian crosswalks were painted in a checkered flag pattern and historical information signs were placed along the original road course used for the first Watkins Glen Grand Prix race held in 1948. Colored paver blocks with embedded monuments commemorating race car drivers from Watkins Glen International races of the past were also placed along both sides of State Route 14.
Additional improvements made as part of the project include new drinking fountains, pet drinking stations, and pedestrian destination markers. A tourist bus drop-off area was established at the harbor near Captain Bill's, which is popular for Seneca Lake cruises.
The Downtown Revitalization Initiative grants include:
- Year-Round Recreation Improvements at Clute Park - $2,017,428 (design is underway)
- East 4th Street Improvements for Pedestrians and Cyclists, and Connection between Downtown and Clute Park - $1,034,565 (design to begin in near future)
- Lafayette Park Upgrades Including New Lighting, Equipment, and Landscaping - $276,047 (design to begin in near future)
- New Gateway and Wayfinding Signage - $644,875 (design to begin in near future)
- Updates of Watkins Glen Performing Arts Center - $250,000
- 2016 grant for $1,091,500 to prepare regional strategic economic development plan (underway) and new Clute Park Bathhouse (design underway)
- DRI funds ($1,500,000) paid for new lighting along Franklin Street (Rt. 14) tied to the NYSDOT road reconstruction.
Located at the southwestern end of Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen is the home to the nationally known NASCAR race track, Watkins Glen International Speedway, which brings tens of thousands to the area each year. For those who prefer a calmer experience, Watkins Glen boasts one of the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks with campsites, picnic areas and hiking trails.
State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York continues to make critical investments in infrastructure that improve quality of life and fuel economic growth. Watkins Glen is a great place to walk around and take in the sites. This project will make it even easier for pedestrians to enjoy the village while at the same time enhancing pedestrian safety. Watkins Glen's downtown revitalization is in full gear and we are proud of the role we are playing to promote safety, travel and tourism, which in turn will keep the Southern Tier soaring for many years to come."
Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said, "This Downtown Revitalization Project will offer tourism opportunities for Watkins Glen due to a great street work that includes new street traffic lighting as the first of many public works that will ease the travel in the region. Governor Cuomo's DRI program continues to be an economic engine for New York State to transform communities into modern hubs where residents, business and visitors can enjoy and prosper."
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “Increasing road safety and access to Watkins Glen and all that the surrounding region offers to visitors and businesses demonstrates how strategic investments in projects that improve New York State’s infrastructure support our economic development efforts.”
Consistent with Governor Cuomo's Driver's First initiative, the project was planned to minimize impacts to traffic and the community. One lane of traffic in each direction was maintained on State Route 14 at most times with only limited instances of traffic being reduced to one lane controlled by flaggers. Additionally, some operations were conducted at night to minimize traffic impacts. To further prevent disruption to the community during peak summer tourist season, work was suspended in the downtown area from the end of June to just after Labor Day weekend in 2018.
Senator Thomas O'Mara said, "From downtown revitalization to this significant investment in local infrastructure, the state's commitment to the short- and long-term future of Watkins Glen, Schuyler County, and the entire region remains strong."
Assembly Member Phil Palmesano said, "We are glad to be here to help celebrate this outstanding enhancement and renovation of the village's local infrastructure. For pedestrians and motorists alike, this significant state investment is literally showing the way to a brighter and stronger future for Watkins Glen, Schuyler County, and the surrounding region."
Schuyler County Administrator Timothy O'Hearn said, "We are thankful to Governor Cuomo and the NYS DOT for the tremendous continued investment in Watkins Glen and Schuyler County. This most recent project reinforces the strong partnership among the state and local governments and will further enhance the transformation that is occurring in the Village of Watkins Glen. We couldn't be happier with the final outcome and sincerely appreciate the detailed efforts to highlight and preserve our racing heritage as well as the numerous additional streetscape improvements that benefit our residents and visitors."
Watkins Glen Mayor Luke Leszyk said, "These are some exciting times in Watkins Glen thanks to New York State. These projects have enhanced our downtown immensely. We have more foot traffic in our downtown now than we've ever had before."
Motorists are reminded that fines are doubled for speeding in a work zone. In accordance with the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual's driver license.
Follow New York State DOT on Twitter: @NYSDOT and @NYSDOTHornell. Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/NYSDOT.
Accelerating Southern Tier Soaring
Today's announcement complements "Southern Tier Soaring the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The State has already invested more than $6.2 billion in the region since 2012 to lay for groundwork for the plan - attracting a talented workforce, growing business and driving innovation. Today, unemployment is down to the lowest levels since before the Great Recession; personal and corporate income taxes are down; and businesses are choosing places like Binghamton, Johnson City and Corning as a destination in which to grow and invest. Now, the region is accelerating Southern Tier Soaring with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2015. The State's $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion - and the region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 10,200 new jobs. More information is available here.