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Canton Board wants Route 11 study

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CANTON - The Canton Village Board agreed Tuesday evening to ask the St. Lawrence County planning officials to organize a comprehensive study for upgrading U.S. Route 11 and possibly creating bypasses around Canton and Potsdam.

Trustees unanimously supported a resolution presented by members of YesEleven, a grassroots group of citizens who advocate improving the existing Route 11 corridor as opposed to constructing an I-98 highway that would extend from Watertown to Plattsburgh.

The Potsdam Village Board will be asked to approve the measure at its Feb. 3 meeting. The Canton and Potsdam town boards will also be asked for their support.

“The two communities need to buy into the process so it’s a collaborative process,” said Klaus D. Proemm, a YesEleven spokesman. “All the boards need to be involved so that everybody is adequately represented.”

The resolution asks the St. Lawrence County Planning Board to “organize a coordinated comprehensive planning process in the Canton-Potsdam region.”

Language from a book outlining Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plans for 2014 highlight improvements to U.S. Route 11 as the best way to move forward.

Members of YesEleven argue that it’s important for local communities in the Route 11 corridor to be proactive in the planning process so that citizens have input in upgrades for Route 11 and possible bypasses.

The group is concerned that the state Department of Transportation will develop its own plan without enough local input about zoning and environmental issues and other potential impacts.

John T. Casserly, another YesEleven member, said the 2008 Northern Tier Expressway Study recommended that a local planning be undertaken to plan for bypasses around Canton and other Route 11 communities.

“We’re just following the study,” he said. “This is a gigantic thing, and it’s just real important to make sure that our local interests are keep in mind.”

Route 11 is the main highway through the village of Canton and is heavily traveled. Supporters of upgrading the highway argue that improvements are needed to maintain and improve the road’s efficiency and safety.

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