To the Editor:
On behalf of the Northern Corridor Transportation Group, I would like to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for addressing the residents of St. Lawrence County on the state of our state while he was in Potsdam this past Tuesday. Following his official remarks, the governor entertained questions from the press. One reporter questioned his commitment toward the Interstate 98 project. His transcribed response was as follows:
“We are constrained, the common theme through all of these questions, we don’t have enough money right now. The government doesn’t have enough money given the national economy and I’m not in a position where I want to raise taxes so we need an economic reality check on a lot of these ideas.
I think the highway might be a good idea. I think it is something we should study but we’re going to have a significant question of even if you think it’s a good idea, how do we pay for it and that’s a constant question. And one of the things that we’ve done over the past two years is that we’ve been economically realistic.
We brought fiscal responsibility to the state. I don’t want to do a tax increase. I think we’ve been losing a lot of people from this state because of taxes. So study it, if it’s a good idea then the question is always the funding.”
The governor’s comments should put to rest the argument that Interstate 98 “will never be built because the NYS DOT doesn’t support” it. The governor is very direct and to the point. If the project were dead, he would have said so.
His remarks also gave assurance to the North Country that the State of New York is actively engaged in evaluating the potential productivity of the corridor once it is optimally developed. The governor, as we have said so many times, is more than open to the project conceptually.
The challenge that we all face with any of our projects, whether it be developing I-98, expanding a local hospital, re-energizing a shuttered paper mill or creating a more marketable downtown, is developing a viable funding stream. Given the project’s potential for job creation and economic growth, we are confident that we can do just that. Given the governor’s comments in Potsdam, we are confident that we have a partner in Albany who is committed to assisting with the task at hand where possible.
We look forward to working with the governor and our colleagues in the transportation sector to develop a creative strategy to source the public and private investments necessary to make the development of the Interstate 98 corridor a reality.
Jason Clark, Norfolk