Rooftop highway not on council’s first list

The rooftop highway, now known as I-98, won’t be on the list of projects the North Country Regional Economic Development Council sends to Albany  this month.

The idea has been around for decades: a four lane interstate to connect I-81 on the western edge of the region, to I-87, on the eastern side.

Council co-chair Garry Douglas told NCPR yesterday that the interstate, being pushed hard by St. Lawrence County, just isn’t the kind of initiative that fits the mold, for now:

We will need to identify a discreet, probably small number of projects, that will have to meet very rigorous criteria…so this is not one of those projects.

This is just the first pass  in Gov. Cuomo’s regional approach to economic development. Appointed councils from around the state are competing for $40 million in state funds —  that’s another the reasons the highway, estimated price tag $4 billion, doesn’t qualify, so far.

The state department of transportation’s against it.  Instead, the DOT prefers more modest improvements along existing state Rt. 11.  How about it? Good idea? Or no?

YESeleven, a group opposing the rooftop highway, has posted maps of what it thinks the route would be, in sections from Watertown to Plattsburgh. Find them at the group’s website, here.

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21 Comments on “Rooftop highway not on council’s first list”

  1. Two Cents says:

    Doesn’t the history of Interstates replacing State highways prove small towns and their businesses do not benefit from the “improvement”?

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  2. Pete Klein says:

    Good. Not that I am against the roof top highway but that it would gobble up too much from the small money pot and most of the jobs would go to outside of the area contractors.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  3. Hank says:

    Much more important – and needed more urgently – than an Interstate are by-passes around certain towns along the Route 11 corridor with (in my opinion) Canton being at the top of the list for such a by-pass. It is unconscionable to have all that truck traffic going through the heart of that village.

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  4. dbw says:

    The roof top highway concept is too controversial. It would distract the Council from its goals, and undermine its larger overall mission. The article Brian mentions points out that the roof top highway is a federal project, so the Council is not really a proper venue, anyway. If it is ever built, it won’t happen for many years. The route 11 corridor has real needs NOW. Passing lanes will make Route 11 safer, and bypasses will facilitate truck traffic through the region, saving time and money. I wish the state would stop dithering on these improvements.

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  5. Two Cents says:

    Yes- additional lanes on rt.11 would be good for traffic flow, mainly the ability for slower trucks, and cars to play nice together.
    Personally i think freight should travel by rail at night and be trucked locally from rail hubs, removing semi-trucks from local roads all-together.

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  6. tootightmike says:

    The North Country towns would be better served by a passenger rail service connecting Syracuse with Cornwall. It would vastly improve our ability to travel from here, and could help to make the north slope of the Adirondacks and the Saint Lawrence River into a travel destination. And TRAFFIC!! Imagine the impact on the college towns if all those students came without their fricken cars. The down towns would bloom, and the through- traffic would flow, and we’d all be a little healthier for it.

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  7. Two Cents says:

    Yes tootight
    passengers by day, and freight by night. That should be the model everywhere. Waste not- want not

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  8. Mervel says:

    You don’t need an “interstate” to have a four lane highway.

    There are numerous ways to improve both 11 and 37. Potsdam’s bypass helped the village; there is no doubt a bypass around Canton would help business not hurt it (what little business does exist in downtown canton). Ogdensburg and Massena have both benefited by rt 37 bypassing them.

    I am for an interstate, but its time to get real and give up this pipe dream which at this point is hurting development and improvements on 11 and 37 as we don’t make any real planes and live in this fantasy world of the “rooftop” highway and miss out on real opportunities.

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  9. Jim Bullard says:

    I agree with Hank that there should be a by-pass around Canton. And yes the Half-pass bypass in Potsdam helped some but have you been in downtown Potsdam when trucks hauling windmill parts rolled through Mervel? Both villages need real bypasses around the village, not just wider re-routes through the middle.

    A passenger train between Syracuse and Cornwall would be great but I don’t know if it would get enough use to pay for itself. In Sept. I took a tall ship cruise from Clayton to Montreal and the only public transit I could find back across the border was the Adirondacker train from Montreal to NYC. It was mostly empty and when I got off in Plattsburgh there was no way to get home from there. My wife had to get off work and come to fetch me. It seems that although Enterprise car rental has outlets in both P’burgh and Potsdam they only rent cars with 2 weeks notice and you have to take them back where you got them. They don’t do one-way rentals.

    The North Country has several transportation challenges and the Rooftop Highway won’t solve most of them.

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  10. dbw says:

    Mervel, this wouldn’t be the first time that North Country residents had unrealistic expectations. Back when the Seaway was built people were sure there were going to jobs galore, theaters, restaurants and shopping from Cape Vincent to Rouse’s Point. While there are jobs at PASNY and the Seaway Development Authority, we know now the rest of it never really materialized, and most of us go weeks or months without ever thinking about the Seaway. There have been other examples over the years. There are no saviors when it comes to economic development.

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  11. john casserly says: would like to gather as many petition signers as possible. the rooftoppers are playing a numbers game in trying to influence things their way. encourage anyone who sees the rooftop as a boondoggle to sign.

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  12. Walker says:

    Speaking of unrealistic expectations: “Imagine the impact on the college towns if all those students came without their fricken cars.”

    Trust me, you could put in fabulous rail service, but they’d still want to bring their cars!

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. Jim Bullard says:

    The Akwesasne Casino was supposed to bring a whole lot of other development and jobs too. I was working in DOL at the time and people were talking enthusiastically about the hotels, restautants, etc. that would be built in between Massena and the Rez and how tourism would increase followed by all sorts of other attractions. Some seemed to think it would turn that area into Las Vegas of the East. We all know how it really turned out.

    Create real bypasses (like the Rt 37 bypass around Massena) for Canton, Potsdam and other villages where there are problems with traffic. The Rooftop Highway would be nice but we can’t afford it and it wouldn’t be the boon they project it to be.

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  14. Mervel says:

    Real by-passes around both villages would be great. My point was simply that it is now very hard for opponents of a bypass around Canton to make any sort of case that a bypass would hurt business. The evidence is in villages and towns with even half bypasses are doing better than those with none.

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  15. dbw says:

    Bypasses will hurt some communities more than others. With Canton having two colleges, the courthouse and being the county seat, it is a destination community.

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  16. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    I have listened to several presentations (soliciting support) regarding I-98 and have yet to be convinced that the North Country would benefit from it. Having been involved with manufacturing and industry in the area for a number a years, I can say that simple access to a 4-lane interstate is not the silver bullet to attracting new or exapnding existing opportunities. In my opinion, neither St. Lawrence County nor New York State are particularly business friendly.

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  17. Who or what is pushing this idea, I wonder? From people who live in the area, I’ve rarely read an endorsement of it. Almost everyone who knows the region realizes it’s too big, not necessary and would probably hurt local communities more than help them. And yet the plan keeps coming back like a Halloween ghost, haunting newspaper front pages and prominent blogs. Why?

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  18. dbw says:

    Will, see my post above about unrealistic expectations. One of our North Country myths is that when it comes to economic development somebody (important)or something big is going to be the silver bullet. All these ideas come along (race tracks, bion, super colliders, seaways, I-98) and people latch on them. They end up draining resources, time and money away from projects that are far less glamorous, but might actually make a difference in people’s lives.

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  19. MrSandwich says:

    Ever driven from Moira to Malone? You’re going to need a pretty long bypass for that area. I-98 would create ghost towns? Potsdam and Canton have 4 colleges!!! Never going to be ghost towns and you all are endorsing bypassing these towns anyway. And to everyone who says we can’t afford it, wake up. This is federal money that WILL be spent somewhere. Why not here?

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  20. I’ve driven from Moira to Malone. Why would you need a bypass? There isn’t much traffic on that stretch, in the towns or outside them. Not everyone endorses bypasses for places like Potsdam and Canton. Setting up truck routes makes sense for a couple of communities, but they need not be elaborate, expensive and extensive.

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  21. MrSandwich says:

    Moira is 35mph, Brushton 35mph, Bangor 35mph with about 20 seconds of 55mph between each town. Try that trip at about 3:00 and see if your opinion changes. Don’t want to bypass Canton or Potsdam? That is precisely where the problem exists. Try a trip from Potsdam to Governeur at about 3:00.
    Time is money. The north country loses money every day because it takes too much time to get anything done.

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