It's an ongoing debate in the North Country: How to improve traffic along the Route 11 corridor. A new project has been scheduled to rebuild a mile of Route 11 in Gouverneur over the next two years. Barry Wygel takes a look at what this means for the future of another project, the Rooftop Highway.
GOUVERNEUR, N.Y. -- Governor Cuomo re-sparked debate over the proposed rooftop highway when he visited Potsdam last week. He said there isn't money for the project now, but he left the door open on it. People opposed to the new highway say the focus should be on improving the existing Route 11. Supporters of that plan got some welcome news Monday.
"We're looking at a reconstruction project in Gouverneur that will start at Gordon Street and continue up to Railroad Street," said Michael Flick, spokesman for the DOT.
This mile-long section Route 11 is scheduled to get a complete rebuild, as well as replacing sidewalks and water and sewer lines.
"It's scheduled to go to bid late March and we expect an early summer start. It's a two year job," said Flick.
"It's our best hope in the short term. Let's face it, the federal government has no money, the state government has no money," said John Danis, from the grassroots group YESeleven.
Danis' group, YESeleven has been in support of improvements for Route 11, while echoing the governor's comments that there is no money for a brand new highway.
"They can either let all this stuff crumble into the ground, or they can take what money can be found and apply it in strategic ways," said Danis.
But supporters of the rooftop highway shouldn't be disappointed by Monday's news.
"As far as being tied into, or not tied into anything to do with I-98 or the rooftop highway, this has nothing to do with it," said Flick.
The Route 11 improvements in Gouverneur is a state department of transportation project, while funding for the rooftop highway would come for the federal government.
The $9 million project is expected to take two years to complete and is scheduled to be done in fall of 2014.