People who make their living from businesses near the main gate to Fort Drum aren't seeing as much traffic this summer.
The apparent reason? Route 781, the road that opened in December that is a direct exit off Route 81 to Fort Drum.
The road was built in response to long waits and heavy traffic on Route 11 near Drum's main gate. Six months in, it seems tgo be working.
"It's so much faster and more convenient. I don't get stuck at the lights. The speed limit is 65," said Alexander Ruggerio, a soldier at Drum.
Yet the main virtue of the road - taking strain off Route 11 - also means fewer potential customers for the businesses that line 11 near the base. Some soldiers and civilian employees at Drum now find a lunch trip to Watertown possible. And other businesses - like hotels - lose the "top of mind" awareness that comes from being seen every day.
"Before they were traveling right past us. Now they have 781, which gets them right on Fort Drum. So it reduces our visibility," said Darpen Patel, of the Days Inn on 11.
To see, hear more about the dilemma Route 11 businesses face, click on the picture to watch 7 News reporter Rachel Spotts' report from Sunday.
Sunday, December 4, 2016, Watertown, NY
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