PLATTSBURGH - The draft of a new study of U.S. Route 11 has been made public, with several recommendations for improvements to the major highway.
Representatives from the New York State Department of Transportation, the Development Authority of the North Country, and Wilbur Smith Associates, the Latham firm which conducted the study, presented their findings at a series of town hall meetings across Northern New York last week, completing their stops in Plattsburgh Dec. 4.
James Levy, senior transportation planner with Wilbur Smith Associates, gave an overview of the Northern Tier Expressway: Route 11 Corridor Study, which examined the 150-mile stretch from the city of Watertown in Jefferson County to the village of Rouses Point. The study was conducted keeping in mind the ultimate goal of creating a four-lane expressway as has been pursued for decades, said Levy. The 17-page document outlines creating an expressway, with steps building up to that point that could be taken slowly.
"We wanted to explore a range of shorter-term transportation improvements that would improve safety, travel time and quality of life for the villages along the corridor," said Levy. "We wanted to be realistic. The expressway itself is a very ambitious undertaking. It's very expensive; it will take time because all transportation projects take time."
The overall estimated cost to develop the 150 miles of Route 11 into a four-lane expressway has been estimated at $1 billion, said Levy. That figure is one that has fluctuated congruently in recent years with the prices of construction materials such as steel, concrete and oil.
"If you were to ask me to price it out six months ago when the cost of oil was what it was, I would have given you a different number than I would today, and it would be a lot less," said Levy.