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Wilmington Notch Roadwork Ahead

February 18th, 2006 · No Comments · News

Update: July 2006 – Roadwork is complete. Still dangerous, but now the wall is bulletproof. Watch out for cyclists!!


The New York State Department of Transportation after years of temporary solutions, much research, and public comment has announced the commencement of repairs this Spring along Routes 73 and 86 in Essex County. Luck Brothers of Plattsburgh, NY has been awarded the contract – Yeah for them! Construction along these two routes will significantly impact access to the Lake Placid – High Peaks region of the Adirondacks from points East, specifically the Northway.

Most notable is the section of road known as the “Wilmington Notch”. This very narrow section of road winds along the famous West Branch of the Ausable River between Wilmington and the Village of Lake Placid. It is the most narrow part between High Falls Gorge and Riverside Dr. which will be the focus of this effort. Historically this road featured a stone wall separating it from the river below, but this has been in desperate need of repair. In 2004, the NYS DOT installed metal guide rails in addition to the extant wall. This was first, not visually appealing, but also completely eliminated any shoulder on either side of the road.

…North Elba Supervisor Shirley Seney said she has concerns about safety with the new railings. “There has been a shortening of width that is going to cause some problems this winter” she said.
Other council members agreed. “It was dangerous already” said Councilman Jay Rand. “Now, I think, it’s even more dangerous.” Rand said the new railings allow no room for pedestrians and bikers, and will make it even tighter for traffic and buses coming to and from Whiteface Mountain Ski Center. [via WNBZ]

It was so bad that in the Winter of 2004, it was necessary to have Pilot Cars lead traffic one direction at a time in order to safely traverse the narrow stretch. The lane width is 10 feet, the DOT Snowplow width is 9 1/2 feet. Cycling on this stretch of road is an act of faith.

Roadwork along Route 73 between Route 9 and Keene Valley will also impact vehicular traffic.

The best way to approach Lake Placid or the High Peaks area from the Northway will be Exit 31, Elizabethtown. Take 9N to 73.

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