The state Department of Transportation is expected to begin an environmental impact review this year as the first step toward the long-awaited expansion of Route 17 in Orange and Sullivan counties becoming a reality.

That’s according to Marc Baez, president and CEO of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, who expects the review to stretch into next year.

The expansion was included as part of the five-year Department of Transportation capital plan established with the adoption of the 2022-23 state budget approved last week.

The environmental review, as well as some initial construction expected to follow, will be funded by up to $1 billion earmarked in the budget.

The project is expected to entail adding a lane of traffic in each direction and upgrade at least some of the on- and off-ramps, as well as each of the 15 park-and-ride lots along the Route 17 corridor. The improvements have long been anticipated as a necessary step toward meeting federal requirements for Route 17 to be converted into Interstate 86.