Industry Reports

Thruway Authority Ready to Effectively Communicate with Seneca Nation on Roadworks

Seneca Nation of Indians has been the center of attention ever since the beginning of this year, as the Native American tribe has objected rulings binding them to continue casino revenue allocations payment. As it became clear recently, the New York State Thruway Authority prompted the Native American tribe to commence roadworks related to the Thruway stretch that runs through its reserve.

The conflict involving non-existent gaming revenue payments to casino host communities has been complicating matters for all parties involved in it. This makes it hard for Salamanca, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls to cover various projects and their debt is swelling. This is also a complicated situation for the Native American tribe, claiming that the original compact for operation inked with the state back in 2002 never mandated the tribe to continue paying the host communities past its 14th year of casino operation.

Roadworks Should Happen Soon

The New York State Thruway Authority wants to see action happening and long-overdue roadworks start. Seneca Nation’s reserve features a slice of the Thruway that has not been subjected to any repairs or restoration over the past years, eventually leading to its considerably worsened condition.

The placed signs warning drivers that there is a rough road ahead have further solidified this. Ever since May 2014, the efforts towards an improved road have been in progress, a lengthy process leaving much to be desired.

New York State Thruway Authority seeks permission to take care of the road and significantly improve its condition, as to transform it into a road able to meet all drivers’ expectations. This week saw the latest attempt of the authority to trigger action in collaboration with the Native American tribe.

Matthew Driscoll of the Thruway Authority pointed out that the pace at which action is taking place is much slower than it should be if the tribe wants to effectively collaborate with the state. He reminded that about two years were needed for previous inspection happening on the same road, including bridge condition evaluation.

Seneca Nation Responds

The three miles of the Thruway should see roadworks that are further delayed by the actions of both the Seneca Nation and the Thruway Authority. The tribe stated that ever since 2017, meetings have been rescheduled on multiple occasions, eventually slowing down the process. The tribe claimed that it has been ready for conversation and action while being falsely accused of noncollaboration.

Future conversation with the state is something Seneca Nation is eager to pursue, according to the latest statement on the subject. It could be recalled that earlier this month, Salamanca Mayor Michael Smith stated that the community is in need of some US$15 million, as the city coffers are about to run dry.

The amount that could be later on invested in roadworks related to State roads 219 and 417. Seneca Nation has to pay US$255 million to the state, covering outstanding casino revenue allocations, which have been generated since the beginning of 2017.