IRVING, N.Y. — Work began in earnest on Tuesday to repair a long neglected section of the New York State Thruway where it crosses the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation.

Once the work is done, the speed limit there — long ago reduced to 45 mph due to poor road conditions — will be back up to 65 mph according to New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll.

There is plenty of work to do on the nearly four mile stretch, which translates to nearly 16 lane miles.

Five inches of asphalt will be stripped off in order for crews to rebuild the concrete subsurface — damaged due to the fact that no major maintenance has been done there in 17 years.

That lack of maintenance was due to a long simmering dispute between the State of New York and the Seneca Nation of Indians — the precise nature of which neither side has ever gone on record to fully explain — but which finally got resolved last fall, allowing the work to go forth.

In order to get it done as hoped by the end of July, crews from Union Concrete — the contractor hired for the job — will essentially work around the clock though for the next four months according to Driscoll.

“Crews will generally be working 24 hour shifts six days a week, and they will have a workforce of about 50 employees on site to complete this work," he said.

The project is budgeted for $20 million, a sum which Driscoll concedes likely would have been less if an agreement to let the work go forth had been reached sooner.

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