Posted on September 6th, 2011 1 comment - Add a comment >>
The Adirondack Mountain Club plans to reopen Adirondak Loj on Thursday and expects that some trails in the eastern High Peaks Wilderneness will be available for hiking by then.
Meantime, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation said on Tuesday that the department is evaluating which trails may be reopened. “It will most likely be tomorrow before we have completed that task and can provide a list of open trails,” David Winchell told me.
Adirondak Loj and the trails in the eastern High Peaks were closed after Hurricane Irene. Raging floodwaters collapsed a section of the road leading to the Loj, which is the main trailhead for hikes in the High Peaks.
Larry Straight, the town of North Elba highway superintendent, said the collapsed section of Adirondak Loj Road, at a bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable, has been repaired to allow one-way traffic. However, the road was still closed as of Tuesday.
Anthony Lavigne, the Essex County superintendent of public works, said the road eventually will again be open to two lanes of traffic, but he couldn’t say if the work will be done this year or next. The bridge over the river is scheduled to be replaced, he said, and it might be make more sense to finish repairs on the road and install the new bridge at the same time. Meantime, the one lane of traffic will be controlled by stop signs.
John Million, ADK’s deputy director, said the club also hopes to open Johns Brook Lodge in the interior of the High Peaks. Since the lodge can be reached only by foot, it cannot operate unless that state opens the access trail. Another potential glitch is that the trail to JBL begins at the Garden parking lot in Keene Valley, and a bridge on the road to the Garden also was damaged in the storm. The town has been allowing local residents to use the bridge, but Bruce Reed, the town highway superintendent, said last week that he wants to shore up the bridge before allowing the general public to use it. I couldn’t reach him for an update on Tuesday.
“We hope all ADK North Country facilities can open Thursday–that’s our current plan,” Million said. “We’re hoping to get folks in so they can enjoy the fall weather. But it’s all dependent on road access and the availability of the backcountry.”
Million said ADK lost of tens of thousands of dollars as a result of the closures. ADK can accommodate 38 people at the Loj. The club’s campground near the Loj has 50 sites. Johns Brook Lodge sleeps 28, and nearby cabins can accommodate an additional 18.
Thirty-one guests were stranded at Adirondak Loj for several days after Irene hit.
Posted on September 6th, 2011 Add a comment >>
Governor Cuomo came to the Adirondacks on Labor Day and delivered good news for the beleaguered community of Keene Valley: Route 73 will be reopened by September 15.
Since Route 73 is the only way in and out of Keene Valley, its closure after Hurricane Irene meant that local stores saw little traffic in what is ordinarily one of the most lucrative weeks of the year.
As I reported last week, business owners wanted the state to reopen the highway before Columbus Day weekend in October. Having seen the extent of damage to the road, I was skeptical that this could be done, so I was surprised by Cuomo’s promise.
“I told them either wheels will roll or heads will roll,” the governor said on Monday.
Carol Breen, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, said an emergency contractor will work overtime to open one lane by the September 15th deadline. She said both lanes will be open by September 25.
“Most likely there still will be work to do [after both lanes open], but there will be traffic going through,” she said.
DOT initially barricaded an eleven-mile stretch from the Route 9 junction (south of Keene Valley) to the Route 9N junction (north of the hamlet), essentially cutting off the community. This past weekend the department moved the 9N barricade to allow motorists to drive to Keene Valley.
Last week I traveled the entire eleven-mile stretch and found that the bad damage occurred in a half-mile stretch near St. Huberts, where a raging stream undercut the highway, leaving giant craters. North and south of St. Huberts the road sustained minor damage along the shoulders but seemed passable—at least to a layman.
What remains uncertain is how much of the road will be restricted to one-lane traffic. Will it be just the half-mile near St. Huberts? Or a longer stretch?
“It will depend in part on how much work they can get done in the ten days [before September 15],” Breen said. She added that DOT will open as much of the road to two lanes as possible.
Breen expects that DOT will control traffic on the one-lane stretch with temporary stoplights.
Marion Jeffers, owner of the Birch Store in Keene Valley, said she was heartened by Cuomo’s announcement and by his mobilization of volunteers and National Guardsmen to help clean up the community.
“If he means what he says, I’m impressed,” she said, “and so far I’ve seen a lot of action.”