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I-98 supporters dismiss DOT commissioner’s remarks

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CANTON — An I-98 supporter dismissed recent remarks made by state Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald as unrepresentative of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s position on the proposed highway through the north country.

In Albany Thursday, Ms. McDonald said she doubted the DOT would build a four-lane highway across the north country connecting Watertown to Plattsburgh, even though the department will take another look at the proposal.

“I haven’t ruled it out yet, but I know what the results of the last two studies showed, that the costs of building it and the volume of traffic did not meet the cost-benefit test,” Ms. McDonald said. “But we will quickly take a look at it, do a fatal flaw analysis and then look at other transportation opportunities to make investments in.”

Jason A. Clark, a consultant to the Northern Corridor Transportation Group, said Ms. McDonald is entitled to her opinion but that I-98 supporters believe it more important what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo thinks.

“In the north country, the proposed Route 98 could reduce travel time and speed up commerce,” Gov. Cuomo said in his State of the State speech. “Let’s see if we can make it a reality.”

The governor was very clear, Mr. Clark said.

“We’re taking the governor at his word. Those interpreting his words should probably speak to him directly,” he said. “We’re going to move forward together.”

Clinton County has come out in favor of I-98. Jefferson County has not passed any resolutions on the proposed project, but that will not stop I-98 supporters from pressing on, Mr. Clark said.

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