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Oswegatchie town officials will consider I-98 resolution

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OGDENSBURG - The town of Oswegatchie will be asked Monday to support the proposed four-lane Interstate 98 project.

When the board meets at 7 p.m., it will consider endorsing a resolution that was approved March 5 by the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators. The measure urges that $6.3 million in federal funds be released to the state Department of Transportation for an environmental impact review of the project.

The resolution also recommends that “upgrades and safety improvements” be made to Route 11, especially in Canton, Potsdam and Gouverneur, because they are “desperately needed and long overdue.”

The proposed four-lane highway would run from Watertown through St. Lawrence County to Rouses Point. It would be located miles south of the town of Oswegatchie, but Supervisor Alfred J. “Bud” Nichols is on board in supporting it. He said he sees the bigger economic development picture in I-98, one where the region and the town would benefit from new businesses and jobs that would be drawn to the interstate.

“Anything that opens up the north country is good,” he said Friday. “It would make a big difference.”

But Mr. Nichols also considers himself a realist. The four-lane highway proposal has been around for five decades, been through numerous name changes including the Northern Tier Expressway and Rooftop Highway, been studied and studied again and yet dismissed by officials from as nearby as the town of Madrid Supervisor Joseph A. Finnegan as a “pipe dream.”

Mr. Nichols isn’t so dismissive of the proposal. But he doesn’t expect to see it realized anytime soon.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen in my lifetime,” Mr. Nichols said.

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