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Interstate 86 or I -86 is an Interstate Highway in the U.S. state of New York. The interstate runs more or less parallel to the Pennsylvania border, providing an alternative to Interstate 90, which is a toll road. The highway currently runs only as far as Elmira as I-86, but is ready for a few short substandard stretches as a freeway up to Harriman on Interstate 87, just north of New York City. I-86 is 624 kilometers long.
Western New York
I-86 in far west New York.
I-86 at Binghamton.
At the hamlet of Findley Lake, Interstate 86 in Pennsylvania enters New York State from the town of Erie. The highway here is called the Southern Tier Expressway, and the road is quite hilly. One passes through an area with forests and fields. You cross Chautauqa Lake via a bridge. The highway then runs along the lake, and one has a nice view over it, and there is also a lookout point. You then pass Jamestown, a regional town with 31,000 inhabitants. Just east of Jamestown you cross US 62, which runs from Warren in Pennsylvania to Buffalo. One comes across the New York countryside, and one crosses the Allegheny River. At Salamanca one crosses the US 219, which runs from Buffalo to Bradford.
According to Topschoolsintheusa, the route remains hilly, and can sometimes be called picturesque, with steep hills along the highway. There are regularly small towns along the road, but you will not come across large cities. At Avoca, Interstate 390 ends on the highway, which comes from Rochester. I-86 turns southeast here. At Corning one crosses Interstate 99 going south to Williamsport in Pennsylvaniaruns. Not far afterwards you reach the city of Elmira, a regional town with 31,000 inhabitants and a number of suburbs. East of Elmira, I-86 runs a few yards from the Pennsylvania border. Entrances and exits are already in Pennsylvania. A little further on, at Waverly, I-86 runs for about 2,500 yards in Pennsylvania, but is under New York state administration.
You then enter the valley of the Susquehanna River, a fairly important river in this part of the United States. The highway runs regularly directly over the river bank. One then reaches the town of Binghamton, where Interstate 81 merges with I-86. I-81 comes from Syracuse. On the east side of Binghamton, I-86 merges to the east, while I-81 heads toward Scranton in Pennsylvania.
Eastern New York
The highway here is still called the Southern Tier Expressway, and it enters the Catskill Mountains. This area also has many forests. What is striking about Interstate 86 is that it does not cross any US Highways. Windsor crosses the Susquehanna River for the last time, and I-86 turns southeast. The highway again runs just a few hundred meters from the Pennsylvania border. The area is becoming increasingly mountainous, and is more or less the division between Central New York and the Hudson River Valley, with the major city of New York City and its area of influence. The road then winds through the Catskill Mountains, and is picturesque. At Parksville, another few kilometers will followsubstandard highway.
One then more or less leaves the Catskill Mountains, and then enters a slightly hilly area. The area is sometimes very densely forested. At Wurtsboro, US 209 crosses, which runs northeast from Port Jervis. One then passes by the small town of Middletown, where one crosses Interstate 84, which runs from Scranton to Hartford, and is the first east-west connection north of New York City that does not pass through the metropolitan area. Then the US adds 6on I-86. You pass the town of Kiryas Joel, where many signs are bilingual, in Hebrew and English, because a large Jewish minority lives here. Not far after that, in Harriman, I-86 ends at Interstate 87, the highway from New York City to Albany and Montréal.
Upper Hudson Valley
The predecessor to I-86 was State Route 17. Construction on the highway began in 1947, and in July 1954, the first 15 miles of it opened around Middletown. In October 1954 this section was extended to Chester, and in August 1955 to I-87 at Harriman. In December 1956 an approximately 20 kilometer long section opened between Monticello and Wurtsboro. In July 1958 this westwarts was extended to Liberty. On October 23, 1958, a six-mile section from Wurtsboro opened up just before Middletown. This made it possible to drive continuously for about 90 kilometers between Liberty and I-87.
Southern Tier Expressway
The first stretches opened in the western part of the state in the mid-1960s, mainly stretches between the Pennsylvania border and Elmira, which were not yet connected. In the early 1970s, a large number of missing links were opened up in the western part of the state. In 1989, the short stretch through Pennsylvania opened east of Erie. Since then, the work has largely consisted of leveling the last sections of State Route 17.
As of December 3, 1999, the western portion of the highway between Erie and Binghamton was renumbered I-86. The numbering was then extended eastwards when the last crossings were replaced by grade-separated junctions. However, the upgrade process had slowed down considerably after 2010 due to other priorities in the state. It is not clear when State Route 17 will be completely transformed into I-86. Nearly the entire State Route 17 is now grade separated, there is still one section of 5 kilometers around Hale Eddy at the northeast tip of Pennsylvania that still has a few irregular intersections and yard connections.
The highway isn’t exactly busy, with barely 10,000 vehicles in western New York. After Elmira, this rises to 25,000 and 50,000 at Binghamton. Only 7,000 vehicles per day drive through the Catskill Mountains. Right at the end, the road is a bit busier with 60,000 vehicles a day.