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Colton supervisor says too much emphasis on Rooftop Highway

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Town leaders in Colton say the north country is putting too much emphasis on a so-called Rooftop Highway, and not enough on short term economic development projects. The highway idea, which some have dubbed I-98, is to build a four lane interstate from Watertown around to Plattsburgh.

Colton Town Supervisor Lawrence Patzwald says there are many ways to boost the region's economy.

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Reported by

Julie Grant
Reporter and Producer

"But it seems that we’ve put a major part of our emphasis on the I-98 corridor.  I definitely can see that down the road there’s very strong potential benefit.  But let’s take care of today too."

Patzwald says Colton and other small communities would get a more noticeable boost from something like broadband access, rather than roadway access.

The north country region was recently awarded one of the state’s top prizes – more than 100-million dollars – in New York’s economic development competition.

Some of that money will go toward improving trails in Colton.

But Patzwald says town leaders had nothing to do with it.

"As far as input from localities was concerned, I knew, and we knew, very little about that whole operation. That was , to me, was keyed into Potsdam, Canton. Again, we got money because some people were involved – but I don’t even know how they got involved."

Patzwald says there’s no guarantee the Rooftop Highway will attract business, especially for a small community like Colton – and it will take years to build.  The north country development council also deemed the highway as a long-term project, and excluded it from recent state grant awards.  But Patzwald is not pleased that county legislators have allocated $20,000 to promote the interstate idea, and are discussing plans to give more next year.

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