Samara "Sam" Barend is a public entrepreneur and community activist with a passion for economic development, particularly in rural communities. From 1996 to 1999, she spearheaded the I-86 Campaign, a grassroots movement she initiated to convert New York's Route 17 into Interstate 86 that garnered support from all levels of local government and both sides of the aisle. She then assembled a coalition of civic, business, and community leaders to lobby for the legislation. Ms. Barend garnered support from both of New York's U.S. Senators, eight New York U.S. Representatives, and countless local officials. She drafted the Senate bill to create I-86, which was passed by Congress as part of the Transportation Reauthorization. This re-designation is projected to create thousands of new jobs and generate more than $3 billion in economic development for New York's Southern Tier region. Sam continues to be active with this coalition today, working hard to lobby for funding to expand and repair this and many other integral highways throughout New York State.
Sam has worked as a journalist, city planner, and grassroots organizer. From 2000 to 2001, she served as Upstate Director for the New York Democratic State Committee. In 2000, she worked in 56 New York counties as the Statewide Neighborhood Program Director for Hillary Clinton's successful U.S. Senate campaign. Prior to joining the Clinton campaign, Ms. Barend served as Deputy New York State Field Director for Al Gore for President. Since 1999, she has served as Communications Director for the New York Democratic Rural Conference. Sam is the founding Executive Director of Minds of Steel, a non-profit corporation promoting the benefits of exercise in addressing mental illness.
She received her Masters Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2004 and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999 with a degree in Public Policy and Management. Sam was awarded an Eisenhower fellowship from the Federal Highway Administration to study how the Southern Tier can create an industrial corridor along Interstate 86 and was honored as a USA Today Academic All American and as an honorable mention in Empire Report Magazine's "Top 20 New Yorkers".
The Congressional Record Entry Documenting Senator Moynihan's Speech entring the I86 bill into the Record and Honoring Sam.
Proceedings and Debates of the 105th Congress, First Session
Vol. 143, No 91
Washington, Wednesday, June 25, 1997
The Redesignation of Route 17 as Interstate 86 Act of 1997
Mr. Moynihan: Mr. President, I rise today with my distinguished fellow Senator from New York to introduce legislation that will redesignate sections of New York and Pennsylvania Route 17 as Interstate 86. The southern tier of New York has waited over 40 years for this historic legislation that will correct a mistake made in 1955 that has contributed to the economic decline of this once prosperous region.
When the original plans were being developed for the New York Interstate System, Route 17 was to be designated the main east-west interstate route. The (Federal) Bureau of Public Roads thought otherwise. They preferred the New York State Thruway which was already under construction using state moneys. Albany did not object nor did representatives of the region.
The error had no significance at the time, since no special funding was available for interstates. The very next year, however, the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was enacted, creating a Highway Trust Fund to be funded through gasoline taxes. The Federal Government would now pay 90 percent of the cost of any interstate segment. The Southern Tier Expressway_Route 17_was not eligible for those interstate funds.
In the 1950's the region was still bustling_IBM was in Binghamton, half the television sets in the world were built in Elmira, Corning was a high tech contender, and Jamestown was a major manufacturing center. What begun as an Indian trail, became a great railroad, and a strikingly creative industrial corridor, was allowed to languish.
It is time we do something about it.
This legislation we introduce today would finally ameliorate the legacy of an opportunity missed long ago.
The bill would immediately designate 360 miles of Route 17 between Erie, PA and Harriman, NY, that meet Federal interstate construction standards as Interstate 86, creating connections to I-90, I-390, I-81, I-84, and I-87. The remaining 30 miles of Route 17 would be designated as a future part of the interstate system and will become I-86 as soon as the State Department of Transportation upgrades them. I am confident the NYDOT, working together with the Federal Highway Administration, will soon have the rest of Route 17 up to interstate standards.
The southern tier region, along with the rest of Upstate New York, has suffered enduring economic hardship and job losses, even as the national economy has boomed. The bill I propose to redesignate Route 17 as I-86 would help enhance the visibility of this important region and highlight its potential for business development and tourism.
I would also like to recognize the efforts of Samara Barend, a southern tier native, who was so effective in mobilizing support for this issue. I urge my colleagues to join with me in support of this most important legislation.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.