That major improvements are needed for U.S. Route 11 is well known.
The question, then, becomes what specific changes would best suit the communities along Route 11. And who better to address this issue than the people who make up these communities?
The state has allocated $6 million for upgrades to Route 11, work tentatively scheduled to begin in 2018-19. Representatives of the New York State Department of Transportations Region 7 will conduct public hearings this summer to solicit input on how this project should proceed.
The work involves evaluating several locations for potential sites for turning lanes, passing lanes and reconfigured intersections, according to a Thursday story in the Watertown Daily Times. Depending on funding, additional work likely would be several additional years down the road.
One of the best ideas about how to ensure this project incorporates the most necessary changes to Route 11 comes from members of YESeleven. They are encouraging officials in Canton and Potsdam to create a regional planning council as a way for residents to have a voice in this process.
YESeleven is a newly formed group of local citizens who are concerned with highway transportation needs and priorities in northern New York state. Our concern is that needs are not being met and priorities are badly misplaced, according to the groups website (www.yeseleven.org). More specifically, we believe that US Route 11, the primary arterial highway across our region, is in critical need of improvements to make it safer and more efficient, and to improve the communities within its corridor. Such improvements were first advanced in 2008 by the NY State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. We feel improvement of the Route 11 corridor should be our top highway transportation priority.
Members of YESeleven favor a focus on improving Route 11 rather than creating the rooftop highway, a plan to establish Interstate 98. This would be a four-lane highway between Watertown and Plattsburgh.
However, Route 11 already serves as this connector, members of YESeleven have pointed out. Enhancing this existing road is crucial to the continued growth of surrounding communities, they believe.
Creating a regional planning council would be a good way for residents to study whats needed for Route 11 and provide their input on how the states project should move forward. Officials in Canton and Potsdam would be wise to put this plan into motion as soon as possible.