PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County legislators agreed to support a plan to create a massive new interstate highway between Plattsburgh and Watertown across the northern part of the state.
They also agreed to support a scaled-back plan that includes improvements to the existing Route 11 corridor instead of a full-blown highway.
“We were asked to support the concept of a new highway, but we found that there were those on the legislature that wanted the priority to be improvement of the existing infrastructure instead,” said Legislator Harry McManus (D-Area 1, Champlain, chairman of the county’s Transportation Committee.
“So in my never-ending quest to amalgamate ideas, I thought, why not support both concepts?”
The idea of a “rooftop highway” across the North Country has been around since 1960, at least. Such a multi-billion-dollar project would include four lanes along a path either north or south of Route 11. It would be known as Interstate 98.
The state recently ordered yet another study of the idea. A group called the Northern Corridor Transportation Group, out of St. Lawrence County, continues to push for the interstate and is seeking resolutions of support from counties potentially impacted.
Another group, YESeleven, backs the alternative of improving the existing road.
The New York Farm Bureau is against the idea of a major highway, saying it would destroy too much tillable land.
McManus said an improved east-to-west corridor along the northern part of the state should improve the economic landscape of most towns and villages affected, but not everyone favors a major project.
McManus’s colleague, Legislator Mark Dame, is one of them.
“It’s not in my DNA to support a multi-billion-dollar project for anything,” Dame (R-Area 8, City and Town of Plattsburgh) said.
“Besides, this project has been talked about for decades. It’s never going to happen.”