North Country, NY According to governor Andrew Cuomo, a $7.6 million highway project that improves mobility for the soldiers at Fort Drum and eases traffic congestion for travelers along State Rte. 26 has been completed. The project included the reconstruction of Nash Blvd. on Fort Drum and the construction of a new bridge over State Rte. 26, as well as the construction of a roundabout near the Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.
“Fort Drum is a key economic driver in the North Country, and the Nash Blvd. improvements will make it safer and more convenient to travel on base while at the same time improving traffic flow in the surrounding area,” gov. Cuomo said.
The Nash Blvd. project reconstructed one mile of Nash Blvd. and erected a new bridge, connecting the airfield area of the base to the main cantonment area. It will improve transportation operations on Fort Drum by providing direct access between cantonment areas. This will reduce congestion on State Rte. 26, providing for safer and more efficient traffic flow. The creation of a two-lane, multi-girder bridge over Rte. 26 will also allow on-base traffic to pass from one side to the other without having to leave the base and again clear security upon reentering.
This portion of Rte. 26 is a common access point for soldiers reporting to Fort Drum, as well as for commercial deliveries to the facility. Fort Drum, home to the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, is the largest employer in the area.
Governor Cuomo in his 2015 State of the State address announced funding for transportation improvements along Rte. 26, with the Nash Blvd. project being the second of three projects to be completed there. The first, a $3 million intersection alignment of State Rte. 26 on Fort Drum, was completed last summer, reconfiguring the Rte. 26 intersection with Oneida and Ontario Aves. to improve safety and reduce congestion. The area contained two intersections, one for traffic entering and one for traffic exiting the base, thus making traffic backups common. The new roadway combines the two intersections into one wider intersection, adding slip ramps and turning lanes to facilitate easier access for drivers.
The third project, scheduled for next year, will construct a slip ramp on northbound U.S. Rte. 11 at the intersection of State Rte. 26. It also will make turning lane and signal improvements at the intersection, which is a busy access route to Fort Drum.
Major general Walter Piatt, commanding general, Fort Drum & the 10th Mountain Division said, “As soldiers, we see bridges as key terrain. If you hold this terrain, you have a decisive advantage over your enemy. As for bridges, we seek to control them before the enemy does. We need them to cross rivers and overcome significant obstacles. I have defended bridges, captured bridges and I have blown bridges up, but I’ve never accepted one, and I really like accepting one over the previous actions I’ve had with bridges. This key terrain is a symbol of the unique and wonderful relationship we have at Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division has with the state of New York. Not only does this bridge connect our cantonment area with our airfield, it does much, much more. It connects this post and the 10th Mountain Division to New York, confirming what I know–that New York cares deeply for soldiers and their families and works hard to make the North Country the best community in the United States.”
The real key terrain is the people of New York and the North Country. Those who see this bridge from this day forward will see a magnificent structure, but I will always see the commitment of our local representatives who understand the strategic importance of Fort Drum.”
NYS Department of Transportation acting commissioner Paul Karas said, “Improving Nash Blvd. will enhance safety and reduce congestion on Rte. 26, making travel on the base more efficient now and into the future. All of these projects are a clear demonstration of governor Cuomo’s support for Fort Drum, the 10th Mountain Division and all they contribute to the state, local community and our national defense.”