AKWESASNE, N.Y. (WWTI) — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Planning and Infrastructure Division has been awarded $10,235,200 to improve a 4.2-mile stretch of Route 37.

The funding, made available through the Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program, will be used to reconfigure the roadway to include a center turning lane.

The program funds regional, local and Tribal initiatives through grants that are meant to prevent roadway deaths and serious injuries.

Route 37 runs East to West through the reservation. Traveling eastward, the roadway reduces from four lanes to two lanes as travelers drive onto the territory. The congested traffic has caused accidents, with the majority of them being rear-end collisions, according to Tribal officials.

“We are committed to providing and maintaining local roadways that are safe for the entire community and our visitors,” Planning and Infrastructure Director Colleen Thomas said. “With a large concentration of accidents occurring on Route 37, there is a need for safety improvements to address the serious, and often fatal, crashes that have taken place over the years. I thank our stakeholders for helping prepare and submit a successful plan to improve road safety — especially our on-call engineering firm of AES Northeast and Lieutenant Ted Cook, who updated the Tribe’s crash data with New York State’s Department of Motor Vehicles.”

Data collected as part of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Tribal Transportation Safety Plan showed there were more than 803 crashes over a five-year period, from February 2016 to January 2021, of which 172 involved an injury and 21 involved a serious injury or fatality.

(Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Planning and Infrastructure)

To improve the safety of Route 37, a 16-foot-wide center turning lane will be constructed with two 12-foot-wide travel lanes in each direction and a 5-foot shoulder on each side. Tribal officials say the creation of a center turning lane will reduce the number of crashes involving turning vehicles and help improve access to the road for several residences, businesses and government offices.

The majority of the work will be done from the intersection of Route 95 to Raquette Point Road. Officials say property owners will be consulted for any improvements that may impact their property.

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“The federal infrastructure funds received for this long-needed improvement to Route 37 are vital to improve traffic safety through the busiest part of our community. Our Nation continues to grow and the new center turning lane will result in a safer community for everyone. This is wonderful news, and great work, by our Planning and Infrastructure Team to secure these important funds,” SRMT Executive Director Tsiorasa Barreiro said.

Once the grant agreement is finalized between the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and U.S. Department of Transportation, the Tribe’s Planning and Infrastructure Division will schedule a public meeting to present the improvements and respond to questions.