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Village of Potsdam supports I-98 study


POTSDAM — Trustees expressed their support for the proposed Route 98 highway Monday, despite dissent from Mayor Steven W. Yurgartis.

A resolution applauding a proposed feasibility study examining the highway passed 3-1, with. Mr Yurgartis the only dissenter. Trustee Ruth F. Garner was not present.

The resolution is nearly identical to the one passed by the town of Potsdam last week. In addition to supporting the highway, it also calls for improvements to Route 11 and requests the state seek local input in any study conducted.

Trustee Eleanor F. Hopke introduced the resolution at the end of Monday’s meeting. She said proposed bypasses around Canton and Potsdam could be the first step to creating a full-fledged highway.

“We’re not going to get the interstate I think is really needed all in one piece, but we need to build the pieces as we can,” she said.

“We need transportation.”

Mr. Yurgartis said he agreed a study could be a good thing, but stopped short of supporting a north country highway.

“I think it makes some assumptions,” he said of the resolution. “First that Route 98 will be good for economic development.”

He pointed to studies from 2003 and 2008 which determined that a highway would not be feasible.

“I don’t want to presume what the outcome of that study will be,” he said. “I want to wait and see what the studies say.”

I-98 has been the subject of fervent discussion and debate since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced in January that $2.5 million was being allocated for a feasibility study.

The scope of the study has yet to be determined, but it is expected to focus on bypasses around Canton and Potsdam rather than the construction of an entire highway.

Trustees Ronald Tischler and Stephen J. Warr did not join in the debate, but voted with Ms. Hopke to pass the resolution.

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