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Downtown Clayton project can boost tourism, officials say

By Eric Reinhardt (ereinhardt@cnybj.com)

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The state says work has wrapped up on a $9.3 million project that reconstructed and modernized State Route 970L, the main travel route through the village of Clayton in Jefferson County. (PHOTO CREDIT: NEW YORK STATE)

CLAYTON, N.Y. — Elected officials believe a recently completed project in downtown Clayton in Jefferson County will benefit the community’s role in Thousand Islands tourism.

Crews have finished work on a $9.3 million project that reconstructed and modernized State Route 970L, the main travel route through the Jefferson County village. 

The project “improved resiliency” against severe-weather events and 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,” the office of Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

State Route 970L is described as an “important travel loop through the Clayton’s downtown historic district” and includes James Street, Riverside Drive, and Webb Street. Working with local leaders, the New York 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. The effort included new asphalt road surface and new sidewalks with pedestrian bump-outs to improve mobility for all forms of travel. 

Crews added new streetscape amenities including benches, ornamental lighting, brick paving stones, and decorative plantings throughout the project area. On-street parking was also improved along James Street. 

The project additionally included the underground relocation of above-ground utilities through the historic district, which the state says will reduce instances of power outages during severe-weather events. Water and sewer lines were also upgraded. 

“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,” Jefferson County Legislative Chairman Scott Gray said. “We are all partners in making our region and waterfront communities more attractive and in turn we all prosper.”

Empire State Development supported this piece of the project with a $1 million capital grant, awarded during the fifth round of the state’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative. 

Located along the St. Lawrence River, Clayton is home to numerous shops, restaurants and art galleries. It also features an opera house and three museums, including the famous Antique Boat Museum.

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