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Improvements to be made to Rouses Point border crossing

ROUSES POINT The New York State Department of Transportation hopes to take the confusion out of crossing the border in Rouses Point with an estimated $700,000 roadway improvement project. State DOT officials and representatives from the URS Corporation, a consulting and engineering firm from Clifton Park, hosted a meeting at the Rouses Point Civic Center Oct. 9, giving the public an opportunity to review proposed changes to northbound and southbound lanes surrounding the Rouses Point United States border crossing. The hearing was part of the preliminary planning process for the project, giving the firm the ability to measure and evaluate the social and environmental impacts the improvements could have, said Michael K. Chevalier, project manager with the URS Corporation. The changes, Chevalier explained, consist of repaving and restriping approximately three-fourths of a mile of U.S. Route 11 from the State Route 2 intersection just outside the village, up to the Canadian border. The project will also involve repaving and widening of the southbound lanes leading into the U.S. Customs station that motorists must utilize when entering the U.S. The idea behind widening the lanes will be to alleviate vehicle congestion that can often occur, particularly in the summer months, said Chevalier. The temporary cones and barrels that have been in place surrounding the Customs station over the past few years will be replaced with more permanent signage and barriers. The cones and barrels are a maintenance headache for the DOT, said Chevalier. "They're constantly being hit by vehicles and snowplow, so this will just be an easier installation to maintain," he said. Additional signage will be installed on both sides of the U.S. Customs station to reduce the confusion of which way to travel when approach the station from the north and south, said Chevalier. That change, in particular, is hoped to reduce the number of people traveling southbound who either inadvertently or purposely utilize the northbound lane to bypass Customs. "There will be fewer options and opportunities to make mistakes," said Chevalier. "Significantly more lighting" will also be added to create a safer environment for motorists and Customs officials, said Chevalier. Throughout the course of the project, the road will remain open, though it may be narrowed at times to one lane in each direction, Chevalier said. During busier travel weekends, such as Independence Day and Memorial Day, motorists may want to consider an alternate route when crossing the border, he added. "Hopefully, people will be able to get in more quickly and more efficiently than they have in past years," Chevalier said of how he views the end result of the project. Those words were what local residents like Carol Lefebvre wanted to hear. Lefebvre, who lives in the town of Champlain on State Route 276, attended the public hearing to see if the improvements would have any impact on the Champlain border crossing near her home. While she learned they would not, Lefebvre said she looks forward to the changes as she knows all too well the frustrations of "Sometimes, when I come home on Route 276, there's a long line waiting and I have to try to get around them to get home," said Lefebvre. She added she hopes the Rouses Point crossing will see more use, reducing the amount of traffic that can often cause congestion at the Overton Corners crossing. "Hopefully, it goes through smoother," Lefebvre added. Craig Robinson, a supervisor with Canadian Customs at the Overton Corners crossing, agreed. Robinson was also in attendance to see what effect the improvements would have on his crossing, such as potential traffic delays. "If the personnel is doubled [at the Rouses Point crossing] and it does expedite the process, there will be more traffic, I presume, that avoids the main highway," Robinson said, referring to the Champlain border crossing at Interstate 87. The construction currently under way at the larger Champlain crossing has resulted in many motorists utilizing smaller crossings such as Overton Corners and at Rouses Point, increasing wait times at those crossings, Robinson said. "I'm a little concerned about this taking place during the summer, but it's the time to do the work, I guess," said Robinson. The project will be put out to bid in February, with construction expected to begin next spring, The project, which be entirely funded through the state DOT, will be finished by next fall, said Chevalier.

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