Rensselaer Falls man says expressway different from interstate highway
Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 1:55 pm

To the Editor:

An expressway is not an interstate highway. An expressway, is an open ended, flexible highway design that can vary widely to serve the needs of each locality along its route, (Rt 12 to Utica). It can be two lanes in light traffic areas, three lanes in moderate traffic areas or four lanes in areas of high traffic, such as business districts. It can be partitioned by a center barrier to allow higher speed limits in rural areas An expressway might have right and left turn lanes to create thru-lanes. It might have hill-climbing, slow lanes. It can even include limited bypasses to relieve congested downtown areas. expressways cost a small fraction to build when compared with an ‘Interstate Highway’. Expressways can be built as funding becomes available and employs 30 percent more people to build. The work is mostly done by local and regional workers and suppliers.

An interstate highway, (think Rt.81), is a high speed, limited access, four-lane highway with a median, built on a one-size-fits-all model for an entire region. It allows few access points and it has few crossing over or under points, with many existing local roads dead-ended. Because of its wide footprint, 400 feet or more, it cannot be built in the footprint of an existing highway and thus requires that large amounts of formerly private lands be taken. Interstate highways are the most expensive highway option, costing many times what an expressway costs. Interstate highways tend to be too large to employ local contractors, workers and suppliers.

The proponents of building an Interstate highway, ‘I-98’, across Northern New York, are playing a very dishonest game with the meanings of these two terms. The 2002 Northern Tier Transportation Study, commissioned by DANC, concluded, (pg. 159,160,161, available at that the best highway transportation option for Northern New York, was to upgrade and improve the existing Rt. 11 highway to expressway level. The ‘I-98’, ( ‘I’, as in Interstate), proponents have repeatedly claimed that they should have control of various sums of money, the latest being a 984,000 dollar earmark from several years ago, intended to do environmental study for an East-West Expressway, as recommended in the 2002 Transportation Study.

That last part is true. The problem is that they want to build an ‘Interstate Highway,’ which was disqualified by the 2002 study, but they want to call it an expressway to justify their getting the money. If they get money in their game, this stalemate will continue for another 40 years and our region will suffer for it.

John Danis, Rensselaer Falls