A group that is fostering improvements to U.S. Rt. 11 rather than a new Interstate-standard “rooftop highway” is praising ideas for Canton and Potsdam bypasses.
YESeleven, a group formed two years ago to counter a push to build a new superhighway – dubbed I-98 -- across northern New York, says it is “elated that the NCREDC has advanced the idea of developing highway bypasses around Canton and Potsdam.”
The North Country Regional Economic Development Council – the NCREDC – has asked to the state Department of Transportation to investigate the possibility of bypass routes around Canton and Potsdam in order to ease transportation and heighten access to economic activities in the region, according to a statement from the council after their September meeting.
John Casserly and John Danis, YESeleven co-coordinators, say that economic development is continuing along the Rt. 11 corridor, but that with the current road configuration, it acts “to further impede efficient traffic flow and compromise highway safety.
“There is little question that well-planned bypasses would improve local community life as well as traffic efficiency,” they say, and are urging to council to proceed along their course of inquiry.”
“Given the lack of available funding, it will take an enormous effort to turn the bypass concept into a reality. It’s also important to note that bypasses are not a panacea for the area’s transportation problems. Other improvements will be needed to make Route 11 safer and more efficient,” Casserly and Danis said in a statement to the council.
But they are urging care in planning, as reports on earlier bypass projects in the region suggest that hasty construction might well diminish economic and social prospects of the communities involved.
A 2008 DOT study “on the before and after effects of bypasses on rural communities” found that “a bypassed community can flourish if significant advanced preparation, planning, and cooperation among all affected individuals, businesses and governmental entities is undertaken. If the bypass is constructed without consideration of these issues, the impacts could be detrimental to the bypassed community,” Casserly and Danis quote from the report.
The two Canton men are appealing to the NCREDC as uniquely positioned to undertake serious, comprehensive study and planning for the bypasses, with an emphasis on a regional plan for improvements to the Rt. 11 corridor.