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FINAL EXPRESSWAY LINK TO OPEN

The governors of New York and Pennsylvania will meet at the state line today to cut the ribbon on the final stretch of the Southern Tier Expressway.

The last two lanes of Route 17 are finished between Sherman and Interstate 90 near Erie, Pa., completing a project which has been decades in the making.

Gov. Pataki will join Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge for the official opening of the road during 1 p.m. ceremonies on the highway, just west of Findley Lake.

Construction of the remaining two lanes of what had been known as the Expressway's "missing link" began in 1993, after Congress agreed to include funding for the project in a 1991 highway bill.

"This road is only as significant as we make it," said Frederick Larson, the Jamestown attorney and former Chautauqua County legislator who was co-chairman of the former Southern Tier Advisory Committee. "It can be good for business and development, but only if we make it so."

With the four-lane highway complete, the next drive is to have it designated part of the federal Interstate highway system. That move is already under way in Washington.

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