On November 9, 2021, work was completed on a transformative, $9.3 million infrastructure renovation and redesign project that reconstructed and modernized the main travel route—State Route 970L—through the picturesque Village of Clayton in Jefferson County, New York.
The project helps revitalize the t=downtown and encourage pedestrian traffic by enhancing safety and easing travel for residents and visitors alike. It also improves resilience against severe weather events.
Overall, the work has created a more walkable and visually appealing downtown historic district that will further the growth of tourism at this popular destination in the heart of the Thousand Islands Region.
Located along the St. Lawrence River, Clayton is a classic example of a river village and is home to numerous shops, restaurants and art galleries. It also features an opera house and three museums, including the famous Antique Boat Museum.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Through New York’s Resilience and Economic Development Initiative, the State is making significant and strategic investments to strengthen infrastructure and protect community assets vulnerable to flooding and high water. Today’s announcement in the village of Clayton bolsters these region-wide efforts and supports work underway to safeguard our communities and environment, ensuring the Thousand Islands continue to serve as a destination for visitors, helping to sustain the local economy for generations to come.”
State Route 970L is an important travel loop through the Clayton’s downtown historic district and includes James Street, Riverside Drive and Webb Street.
Assemblymember Mark Walczyk said, “The village of Clayton is an asset to the entire Front Yard of America. As the seat of tourism along the St. Lawrence, it is an economic engine for the greater Jefferson County community, a source of jobs and a source of pride for us all. I am thrilled this revitalization project has been completed in time for the holiday season and welcome everyone to come on down to Clayton for their holiday shopping, to enjoy its restaurants and take in its scenic winter vistas.”
Working in collaboration with local community leaders, the State Department of Transportation reconstructed the route from the intersection of James and Mary Street to Riverside Drive and then to Webb Street at the intersection with Hugunin Street, providing a new asphalt road surface and new sidewalks with pedestrian bump outs to improve mobility for all forms of travel.
New streetscape amenities: including benches, ornamental lighting, brick paving stones and decorative plantings, were added throughout the project area to promote the historic district’s aesthetic beauty. On street parking was also improved along James Street.
A key feature of the project included the underground relocation of above-ground utilities through the historic district, which will reduce instances of power outages during severe weather events. Water and sewer lines were also upgraded. Empire State Development supported this piece of the project with a $1 million capital grant, awarded during Round V of the Governor’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative.
Launched in the fall of 2019, the project was planned to minimize impacts to traffic and the community. No major work was conducted in the downtown area during the peak summer tourist season.
State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “The Village of Clayton is one of the premier destinations in all of New York State and this project will help keep it that way for many years to come. Under Governor Hochul’s leadership, New York State continues make critically important investments in infrastructure that improve quality of life, build our economies strengthen the ties that bind our communities together.”
The project also complements another project currently underway as part of the Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) to help sustainably rebuild and enhance economic development in communities along the Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River shorelines.
The flooding of the St. Lawrence River in 2019 negatively impacted the Village of Clayton Wastewater Collection System and Treatment Plant as well as the Riverside Drive and East Union Street Pump Stations, leaving portions of the infrastructure below water, limiting pumping capabilities, and causing interruption of the disinfection process.
Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said, “Projects like this help to create engaging communities that welcome visitors and new residents, and encourage new investments to generate sustainable economic growth. Our funding, awarded through the Regional Council initiative, supported new underground utilities infrastructure that improves safety and benefits businesses in the downtown historic district.”
Mitigation measures for this project include converting the existing chlorine contact to an intermediate effluent lift station and expanding the filtration/disinfection building with larger filters and UV disinfection systems to treat the entire plant flow. The Riverside Drive Pump Station wet well will be expanded and dry pit submersible pumps will be installed, with increased capacity in the dry well. The project is anticipated to complete in 2022.
Jefferson County Legislative Chairman Scott Gray said, “Tourism is an important component of Jefferson County’s economy and the investment in Clayton by New York State recognizes the significant role tourism plays in the prosperity of the entire area. We are all partners in making our region and waterfront communities more attractive and in turn we all prosper.”
Given the close proximity of the State Route 970L project and the Village’s Wastewater Collection System and Treatment Plant project, there was ongoing multi-level governmental coordination throughout the life of the DOT project, both on integration of the REDI funded project as well as addressing Village requests and concerns.
“As our regional economies continue to recover from the pandemic, it’s imperative that we have a transportation network that supports growth and makes it easier for people and goods to get where they need to go,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.
“These improvements in the beautiful Village of Clayton will help residents and visitors alike experience all that the area has to offer, and ensure that the Thousand Islands Region continues to flourish as a world class tourism destination,” she added.
A $2.4 million resiliency project at the Village of Clayton Wastewater Collection and Treatment Plant, is ongoing, which will address damage sustained during high water events and eliminate overflows into to the St. Lawrence River, which in turn will help prevent potential health hazards.
Photos courtesy of the Office of Governor Kathy Hochul.