July 01, 2009

Gillibrand Calls for Consensus on Rooftop Highway Before Transportation Reauthorization Bill is Debated in the Senate

Senator Urges NYDOT To Consider All Options One Last Time To Ensure Federal Investment In North Country Transportation Infrastructure

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of the upcoming Senate debate on the Transportation Reauthorization bill, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, today called for consensus on development of a Rooftop Highway in the North Country. In a letter to New York Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee, Senator Gillibrand urged that all options be considered one last time to ensure the North Country receives its fair share of federal transportation dollars.

“In the North Country this spring, I heard from local officials and community leaders of the importance of a new transportation corridor,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Developing of a Rooftop Highway would bring new jobs to the North Country immediately, and lay the foundation for long term growth by opening up new opportunities for existing businesses, attracting new businesses and helping to fuel new industries. We need to thoroughly consider all the options, and then bring together a consensus that will help us revitalize our economy.”

While the concept of a Rooftop Highway has been discussed for the past four decades, a project could finally be funded through the upcoming Transportation Reauthorization Bill. Senator Gillibrand is working to bring local, state and federal leaders together to advocate for strong federal investments to help build a transportation corridor.

Investing in transportation infrastructure can help rebuild the economy. The various designs of a Rooftop Highway will create new construction jobs immediately, and help bring long term economic development to the region. It would help existing businesses connect and distribute products, help attract new businesses to the region and help spur new industries that New York is poised to be a leader in. 

Senator Gillibrand’s full letter is below:

July 1, 2009

Stanley Gee, Acting Commissioner
New York Department of Transportation
50 Wolf Road
Albany, New York

I am writing to you regarding the issue of increased transportation needs across the North Country region of New York.  In my recent travels I have met with local officials and community representatives who have expressed the importance of developing a transportation corridor in the North Country.  Construction of a major transportation corridor would not only spur short-term job creation, but would build a foundation for long-term economic development across the region for decades. 

While the concept of the Rooftop Highway has been discussed over the past four decades, we are currently in a position where we could soon make wise investments in the improvement of transportation infrastructure across the North Country. With the Transportation Reauthorization Bill expected to be written and debated this year, it is critical that the region, state and federal officials work together to advocate for federal dollars for the North Country.

I understand the importance of transportation to economic development.  I am aware of the different options for a transportation corridor on the 175 miles from Interstate 81 in Watertown to Interstate 87 in Champlain, and along the U.S. Route 11 corridor, with connecting spurs going to the larger communities not on route 11 including Ogdensburg, Massena, Lowville, and Plattsburgh. Both of the proposals have their merits and drawbacks, but as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I pledge to ensure we invest in the North Country’s transportation infrastructure priorities.

I know that New York State Department of Transportation has been active on this issue, and I support the development of increased transportation capacity in the North Country. Given the importance of this transportation corridor to the economic future of the North Country, I ask that you take full consideration of all options. With the Transportation Reauthorization Bill, we are at a critical juncture.  Collectively, we must work together and invest in the most feasible infrastructure project that will best serve the region in the short-term and for years to come. 

I look forward to working with you on this very important project.  I request that you update my office on the status of all the proposals, the steps needed to move this forward, and how I can assist with bringing this vital project to fruition. Please follow up with Ben Rosenbaum in my Washington, DC office with additional information. 
Thank you for your attention to this important request.

Sincerely,

Kirsten E. Gillibrand
U.S. Senator
                                                                 

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