Interstate 98 advocates have blasted St. Lawrence County members of the New York State Farm Bureau for supporting upgrades to U.S. Hwy. 11 instead of the construction of a new interstate highway across northern New York.
Jason Clark, spokesperson for the Northern Corridor Transportation Group, said that his group has penned a letter to state Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine following the Farm Bureau vote in December opposing the so-called "rooftop highway."
The “larger agricultural production and processing community in Northern New York remains committed to the I-98 corridor development project including farm bureaus, soil and water conservation districts, processing facilities, large and small farmers and the New York State Agricultural Development Board,” the NCTG letter to Aubertine says.
Clark said the Farm Bureau’s “questionable decision to reverse a 20-year-old resolution supporting” a stand-alone, limited-access, four-lane highway was made in favor of “a politically charged notion of angling for minimal upgrades to US 11 through the five county North Country region.”
The letter maintains that dozens of “agricultural agencies, producers and processors have also resolved their support to the project and remain steadfast in support of their original positions” that are among more than 600 resolutions passed in support of the I-98 project.
Clark said his group remains “disappointed” in St. Lawrence County Farm Bureau Pres. Jon Greenwood and farmer Kevin Acres, who is also a Republican county legislator, for their “lack of leadership when discussing the project with their Farm Bureau colleagues.” “With no official route having been marked, any argument discouraging the development of the corridor based on the idea that it will compromise productive farmland is irresponsible,” the NCTG letter says.
“They ignored their peers in the North Country; the Franklin Bureau, the McCadam facility in Chateaugay, the St. Lawrence Soil and Water Board, the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, hundreds of fellow farmers…it’s just wrong”, Clark said.
Brian Hammond, NCTG vice-chair, said he was also concerned.
“While serving on the St. Lawrence County IDA Board, Jon voted to support every single resolution or proposal supporting the construction of the Interstate Highway that was presented to him; probably 20 different votes in total,” Hammond said in a prepared statement. “I Just can’t understand his motive on this.”