St. Lawrence County is asking local governments around the North Country to chime in with support for a proposed interstate highway that would link Plattsburgh and Watertown, but not everyone is climbing aboard.
This week, town officials in Malone tabled the request, in part because they don’t think funding is available for the project. This from the Plattsburgh Press-Republican.
Village Board members support the concept of Interstate 98, which has also been known as the “Northern Tier Expressway” and the “Rooftop Highway.”
But they don’t believe there is state or federal funding available to connect Watertown to Rouses Point by a 170-mile roadway that is estimated to cost $3 billion to $4 billion.
The response in Tupper Lake was even more frosty, with town officials arguing that the highway could divert traffic and economic activity away from their community. This from the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
“I do not support that because of businesses,”[town supervisor Roger] Amell said. “Right now, Route 3 is our corridor from Watertown to Plattsburgh.”
He said if more traffic is directed to the northern route, fewer people will use Route 3. He compared it to when the Northway, I-87, was built and businesses along Route 9 lost customers.
Other board members agreed.
“It just diverts traffic,” said Councilman David Tomberlin.
“I definitely want to keep as much activity in our direction as possible,” said Councilwoman Patti Littlefield.
At issue currently is whether $6.3 million in funds set aside for preliminary I-98 work in 2005 should be used for that purpose, or redirected to improve Rt. 11, as state officials have proposed.
On April 4th, the Watertown Daily Times reported that thw village of Massena supported St. Lawrence County’s resolution, urging the Transportation Departmenet to repair Rt. 11 while also beginning work in the Rooftop Highway.
So what do you think? Is I-98 a good long-term investment for this $6.3 million pot of money, or should it go to more immediate transportation needs?