The Pros & Cons Of A 'Rooftop Highway'

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Opponents of the proposed Interstate 98, also known as the "Rooftop Highway," say Route 11 should be given top priority. 

"Route 11 is our main highway here. It's our river of commerce. A lot of our businesses exist along that highway," said John Casserly, YESeleven co-organizer

Casserly and fellow YESeleven organizer John Danis have been advocates for improvements to the existing Route 11 and not a four-lane rooftop highway.

They say the interstate not only would be costly to build, it would also destroy farmland and other property.

In addition, it would divert motorists bypassing Canton and Potsdam businesses, they said.
 
We want to study, ask the question: do these communities want short bypasses? We think that decision should be made locally," said Danis.

In his State of the State message, Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a feasibility study to determine the most effective transportation enhancements for the north country corridor.

Supporters of the I-98 rooftop highway say the plan needs to become reality.

"It's badly needed in the region here to stimulate economic development and it's a good way to tie in transportation assets in the north country together," said Wade Davis of the Northern Corridor Transportation Group.

The idea of a rooftop highway has been floating around for years.

Even with this latest call for a feasibility study by the Cuomo administration, there are no guarantees it will ever be built.

But, St. Lawrence County Legislative Chair Jonathan Putney told us in an e-mail, the multiplier effect from an infrastructure project like the I-98 plan would be tremendous.

"This project will help us retain our current industries and to attract new business ventures," he said.

For now, it's still too early to say which transportation plan will ultimately be given a green light or which direction it may go.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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