Projects Part of $11.1 Million Investment in Strengthening North Country's Infrastructure and Improving Access to Fort Drum
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that major construction on Route 11 in St. Lawrence and Jefferson Counties is complete. The two highway improvement projects are part of an $11.1 million investment to strengthen infrastructure in the North Country region and improve military, civilian and commercial access to Fort Drum - the largest military installation in the state in terms of size, number of personnel and contribution to the economy.
"All across New York State, we are making smart infrastructure investments that are building a transportation network fit for the 21st century," Governor Cuomo said. "As the largest employer in the region, making improvements to the surrounding infrastructure of Fort Drum is a top priority for the region. Today's completed projects will help ensure the North Country continues to be a worthy home for the 10th Mountain Division."
Fort Drum, home to the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division, is the largest single-site employer in northern New York, with more than 19,000 military and civilian personnel directly employed at the base. Its estimated annual economic impact on the region is nearly $2 billion.
The work just completed includes a $2.9 million intersection improvement at U.S. Route 11 and State Route 26 near Fort Drum in Jefferson County and an $8.2 million bridge replacement on U.S. Route 11 bridge over the CSX Railroad in the Town of DeKalb, St. Lawrence County.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "U.S. Route 11 is the backbone of North Country transportation infrastructure and Fort Drum is an economic engine for the entire region. These investments demonstrate Governor Cuomo's commitment to the region and the state's commitment to improving access to Fort Drum and supporting the men and women who live and work in the community."
Intersection Improvement at U.S. Route 11 and State Route 26 - Jefferson County
This project, which was overseen by the State Department of Transportation, fulfills a pledge Governor Cuomo made in his 2015 State of the State Address to fund long-discussed transportation projects that enhance safety and ease traffic on Route 26 near Fort Drum. The latest intersection improvement is the third project to be completed as part of that commitment. In addition to Fort Drum, the intersection serves traffic headed to the Village of Evans Mills and toward Clinton County.
The project, which began in spring 2019, added turning lanes at the intersection of U.S. Route 11 and State Route 26 and a slip ramp onto State Route 26 for northbound traffic on U.S. Route 11. The slip ramp will service military and civilian traffic, as well as commercial traffic headed to Fort Drum. Additionally, improvements to the traffic signal have already eased congestion and improved operational efficiency at the busy intersection.
Previous projects realigned State Route 26 and Ontario/Oneida Drive on Fort Drum and constructed a new bridge along Nash Blvd over State Route 26 on Fort Drum, allowing on-base traffic access to Wheeler-Sack Airbase without the need to leave the post. Both projects enhanced safety and relieved congestion along State Route 26 on Fort Drum.
New York State in 2012 completed the $57 million Fort Drum Connector (Interstate 781) to make the base more accessible for the thousands of North Country residents who rely on it for economic stability.
Bridge Replacement on U.S. Route 11, Town of DeKalb - St. Lawrence County
The new bridge, located between State Route 812 and County Route 19, provides greater vertical and lateral clearance for the CSX rail line that passes beneath. Wider shoulders on the bridge enhance safety for pedestrians, cyclists and Amish buggies. The new bridge also has concrete barriers and pedestrian fencing for safety.
All travel lanes on the bridge have been reopened to traffic as minor finishing work on the project is being completed. Project construction was staged, which enabled the bridge to stay open while it was being replaced in order to minimize traveler inconvenience.
Senator Patty Ritchie said, “Route 11 is an integral part of the North Country’s transportation network, which not only helps get travelers where they need to go, but also serves to strengthen our economy and plays a key role in providing access to Fort Drum. I would like to thank the Governor for recognizing the importance of making investments into this roadway, and look forward to seeing how the project improves traffic flow and safety in our region."
Assembly Member Ken Blankenbush said, "This is more than just an investment in local infrastructure. By ensuring that travel on Route 11 is safe and reliable, we're showing the federal government how important Fort Drum is to us. Modernizing our transportation infrastructure is good for our economy, good for public safety and it's in the interest of our national security."
Motorists are reminded that fines for speeding in a work zone are doubled. In accordance with the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual's driver's license.