Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rooftop Highway

The Development Authority of the North Country (DANC, said "dank", a fitting homonym) has a new website promoting their goal of a limited access roadway across the northern part of the state.

This issue has interested me for a long time. As someone who was on the road constantly in a former career, a faster way across northern NY would have been nice. At the same time, the rainbows and kittens version of how a new road would make Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Franklin, etc., counties the peachiest sunniest economies ever falls flat. The ability to zoom from Potsdam to Plattsburgh in 1.5 hours instead of 2 doesn't mean much if there isn't any reason to go there. Such a roadway may mean easier access to Watertown's mall, for example, which probably isn't something Massena's struggling mall is too happy about. Likewise, gas station and convenience store owners in Moira, Philadelphia or Malone probably aren't sold on a new route carrying traffic around their towns at high speed. Even if there are local exits and off ramps, experience shows that roadside sites are the most visited and go at a steep price.

The entire project, which appears to be basically a pipe dream that eats up federal grants on occasion, is a SEQR nightmare waiting to happen. In fact, I'd guess that there are briefs and requests for injunctions waiting to be filed as soon as the first SEQR-bound agency takes action.


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