The Seneca Nation said it has been in communication with the New York State Thruway Authority this week regarding repairs on a portion of Thruway that crosses the tribe’s Cattaraugus Territory.

President Rickey Armstrong said the Nation is currently reviewing information it received from the authority Wednesday. The new statement comes in response to comments Gov. Andrew Cuomo made during a Thursday interview with Spectrum News.

Cuomo expressed frustration about any insinuation the state was responsible for the road falling into disrepair. He pointed to a letter Thruway Authority Commissioner Matt Driscoll sent to the Senecas over the weekend indicating the state was prepared to start a critical milling and restoration project immediately, and has been attempting to gain access to the stretch for more than five years.

“We will come fix the road tomorrow,” Cuomo said. “If they want to talk about how we fix the road, we can talk about how we fix the road but we are nothing but ready, willing and able to go fix the road tomorrow. However, we need their legal permission which they will not grant.”

In response to Driscoll’s letter, the Senecas said it was the state that has continually canceled or rescheduled meetings to have “a comprehensive discussion regarding important transportation issues.” Cuomo said the administration has no issue with sitting down with tribal leaders as long as the conversation is limited to roads and not the ongoing dispute over casino revenue between the two parties.

“They’ve never broached that they want to talk about anything about how to fix the road,” Cuomo said. “You fix the road by fixing the road. I mean there’s no question about how to fill a pothole. If you want to talk about how to fill a pothole we’ll do that. I don’t believe that’s what they want to talk about. I don’t think they want to let us fix the road because somehow they’re trying to put it together with the money they owe the state on the casino.”

The Senecas said they were happy to hear Cuomo had “finally recognized the long-needed Thruway repairs as separate from other, unrelated issues, since he has publicly tied them together twice in the past few weeks.” The administration contends it never linked the issues but believes the Senecas have been all along.

They have not made payments to the state since March 2017, despite an arbitration panel ruling it has been and is still obligated.  The Senecas have asked a federal judge to vacate the arbitration but vowed to keep the matter separate from the Thruway dispute.