develop lower-carbon solutions to our rural transportation challenges The North Countryâ€™s road network is heavily used for daily commuting, freight movement, and tourism. Due to its size, limited public transportation options, and the distances residents must travel to work and shop, the North Country is a car-dependent region. Therefore, roadway reliability is the key to efficient transportation in the region. In addition, the entire transportation infrastructure system must be flexible enough to provide secondary means of transit when primary road infrastructure is subject to repairs, floods, or other issues that render it unusable for a period of time. Currently, the region has limited bus transit, Amtrak passenger rail service, and freight rail service. Road travel in the region occurs primarily along a few major arteries, such as I-81, I-87, Route 3, and Route 11. North-south travel within the region can cover 150 miles and take over three hours, while east-west travel can cover 180 miles and take more than four hours. Given the mountainous terrain and the limited existing road network in some areas, some locations in the region may be relatively inaccessible to other areas by road or rail. The harsh, cold winters of the region add an additional burden to road travel, resulting in slowed travel and the need for frequent repairs to road surfaces.
Often snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) serve both recreational purposes and as alternative modes of transportation by providing access to back road networks during periods of extreme weather conditions and road conditions. Due to the heavy reliance on individual vehicles, transportation contributes 40% of the regionâ€™s greenhouse gas emissions and is the single largest portion of regional emissions. This chapter evaluates existing local transportation networks and presents strategies for providing a system that is financially, socially, and environmentally sustainable. These strategies focus on efficient and reliable transit system operation, a regional vehicle fleet fueled increasingly by renewable energy sources, affordable and practical multimodal travel choices for North Country residents and tourists, and efficient shipping options for businesses and government. One requirement for improving regional transportation options is increased regional coordination. This could be achieved with an integrated transportation plan that offers improved transportation options and reliability in order to support travel within communities and between counties of the region and surrounding areas. Cooperation between regional stakeholders is essential for establishing more integrated travel systems with shared costs and benefits.
For example, improvements in infrastructure for various modes of transportation such as walking and bicycling (both on-road and recreational trails), ridesharing, Complete Streets policies (as discussed in Section 4), and public transportation (including bus service and targeted shuttle services) can be more readily achieved by municipalities that work together to support transportation planning and improvements. Municipalities and counties that join forces will be able to make the best use of their limited staffing and budget resources. For example, county-level transportation experts and local supporters can undertake joint or integrated transportation planning efforts, as well as prioritize and communicate regional transportation priorities more clearly with the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and other involved agencies. Some transportation projects will be relevant to and viable only within specific local boundaries, while other improvements will require regional solutions, or even state support.
North Country Region Sustainability Plan