Posts Tagged ‘DOT’

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Lake Champlain Bridge: A Year Later

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee and Vermont Agency of Transportation Secretary David Dill marked the one year anniversary of the Lake Champlain Bridge closure on Saturday. The temporary ferry service is still in place providing round-the-clock transportation across the lake at no cost to passengers, and the underwater structures for the new bridge are nearly completed. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dysfunction Junction: What’s Your Function?

Dysfunction Junction INtersection Routes 73 and 9They call it “Crazy Corners” or “Spaghetti Junction” or “Dysfunction Junction.”

For years I’ve driven through the unique, bizarre intersection at Routes 9 and 73 in New Russia, a hamlet of Elizabethtown. For years, I’ve wondered: who on earth designed this crazy confluence, and why?

Today, the route gets about 3,200 vehicles per day, according to the state Department of Transportation, many of which are occupied by hikers, climbers or skiers heading to the High Peaks.

Those who see it for the first time are usually, at least, surprised. When Route 73 hits Route 9, the lanes split off in separate directions, crossing each other in a crazed and seemingly random pattern before coming together again. Even after driving through it for 20 years, I still get confused about where to look for oncoming traffic.

After another surreal experience driving through Dysfunction Junction recently, I decided to investigate. Whose idea was this, anyway, and what’s the point?

My first stop was Peter VanKeuren, public information officer for the state Department of Transportation in Albany. After a little research, he explained that the intersection was built in 1958, using a design that has been instituted (with slightly variations) in other areas, such as Cairo down in the Catskills. That was already news to me, because I always thought it had something to do with preparations for the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.

According to an engineering book at the time, the design is a “bulb type-T intersection” that “favors the heavier right-turn movement from the upper to the lower left leg of the intersection. Sight distances are excellent and approach speeds are approximately 40 miles per hour.”

VanKeuren, however, was unable to explain why this intersection was chosen for this spot. The Cairo intersection, which I’ve driven through on numerous occasions, involves lanes that are already divided, so it’s less jarring. The New Russia intersection, on the other hand, is just a simple, two-lane country road.

A conversation with Conrad “Connie” Hutchins, historian for E-Town, shed some more light.

The intersection, he reminded me, was built long before the Northway, which was wasn’t completed until the late 1960s. Of course!

Before the Northway, Route 9 was the main artery between Albany and Montreal. The road was filled with motels and restaurants to accommodate the traffic. And the previous intersection — a simple stop sign — would occasionally back up with cars, according to locals alive at the time.

“Route 9 was busy,” Hutchins said of the time. “It would be a real mess if we had the traffic now that we had then.”

Taking that into account, this intersection makes sense for the time. The design allows Route 9 traffic to flow through without stopping, while anyone continuing on 73 would have to wait. Nowadays, they’d probably throw in a roundabout instead, but in the 1950s such an idea would have been seen as so foreign.

At the time the intersection opened, locals didn’t really take much notice of it, said Nancy Doyle, whose husband Walter worked on its construction. “If you follow the signs, it’s no big deal,” she said.

Calvin Wrisley, 61, a lifelong resident of the town, says he doesn’t remember any bad accidents occurring there. “I think it’s fairly safe.”

Of course, now the intersection makes less sense. Most traffic is heading not northeast on Route 9, but northwest on 73 — especially on weekends. And today’s drivers, used to traffic circles and traffic lights, are often flummoxed when they are confronted with this intersection for the first time.

Looking back, the choice certainly seems at least a bit short-sighted. After all, plans for the Northway were already underway when this intersection was being constructed. Did no one think: “Hey, when the Northway opens, traffic on Route 9 will be totally different…”

Still, if it’s any consolation, the state won’t be using this design anymore. Not because it’s unsafe or, yes, dysfunctional. But for another reason, says VanKeuren: it takes up too much space.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Road Salt Study Raises Concerns, Offers Suggestions

A new study on roadway de-icing in the Adirondacks describes an antiquated, ineffective, expensive, and environmentally damaging system in need of revision. Commissioned by the non-partisan political action committee AdkAction.org, the science was compiled by Daniel L. Kelting, Executive Director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) at Paul Smith’s College, and Corey L. Laxson, Research Associate. The findings are available online [pdf] and are being distributed to the New York State Department of Transportation and local governments responsible for salting Adirondack roadways. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

APA to Meet This Week:Keene Cell Tower, Luzerne Milfoil, Wilmington Hotel, DOT Signage

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will meet on Thursday February 11 and Friday February 12, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook. The APA board will be considering a 129-foot cell tower proposed for Keene Valley, the use the herbicide Triclopyr to control Eurasian milfoil in Lake Luzerne, the Whiteface Overlook hotel project in Wilmington, and a presentation by NYS DOT Region 2 Director Michael Shamma on Adirondack Park Signage. There will be informational presentations, though no action, on the Jay Mountain Wilderness Area and the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area Unit Management Plans, and also on the economic benefits of mountain biking.

The two-day meeting will be webcast live on the Agency’s website at http://www.apa.state.ny.us. Materials for the meeting can be found at http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/2010/02/index.htm.

Here is the text of the agency’s meeting announcement:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for the Executive Director’s report. This month Terry Martino will highlight 2009 agency activities and accomplishments.

At 10:00 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a Verizon Wireless application for construction of a telecommunication tower. The tower would be located behind the Neighborhood House on the east side of NYS Route 73 (Main Street, Keene Valley), in the Town of Keene, Essex County. The proposed 129 foot tower would be designed as a simulated white pine tree.

The committee meeting will also deliberate an application submitted by the Town of Lake Luzerne to use the herbicide Triclopyr (Renovate® OTF) to control Eurasian watermilfoil in Lake Luzerne. The town proposes to apply 1560 pounds of the granular formulation of Renovate to an 11 acre area of Lake Luzerne known as the “South End.” The town wants to manage moderate to dense beds of milfoil growth in order to improve the ecological, recreational, and aesthetic values of Lake Luzerne.

The committee will also consider the Whiteface Overlook proposal in the Town of Wilmington, Essex County. This project involves conversion of a pre-existing resort hotel structure into 3 new structures each containing four, 3-bedroom dwelling units. The project site is located adjacent to NYS Route 86 across the highway from Whiteface Mountain.

At 1:00, the State Land Committee will hear a statewide fire tower study presentation from DEC staff. The committee will also receive informational presentations on the proposed Jay Mountain Wilderness Area Unit Management Plan and the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area Unit Management Plan. All presentations are informational and the committee will take no action on these matters this month.

At 3:00, the Park Ecology Committee will be provided an overview from Dr. Michale Glennon of the Wildlife Conservation Society Adirondack Communities and Conservation Program on Exurban development. Agency staff will also demonstrate GIS tools used when reviewing permit applications which include activities that could potentially result in impacts to open space resources.

At 4:00, the Full Agency will convene to take action as necessary and conclude the Thursday session with committee reports, public and member comment.

On Friday, February 12 at 9:00 a.m., the Economic Affairs committee will come to order for a presentation from Tim Tierney, Executive Director of Kingdom Trails Association of East Burke, Vermont. Mr. Tierney will provide a unique perspective on economic development opportunities related to mountain biking. The Kingdom Trails Association manages an extensive multi-use trail system for summer and winter recreation which generates economy benefits for the East Burke area of Vermont.

The February meeting will conclude at 10:00 with a presentation from NYS DOT Region 2 Director Michael Shamma on Adirondack Park Signage.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website at:

http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/2010/02/index.htm

The next agency meeting is March 11-12, 2010 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

April Agency Meeting: April 15-16 2010 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Crown Point Bridge Design Recomendation Made

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) announced today both a public survey and the agencies’ Public Advisory Committee (PAC) agree on what the new Crown Point – Chimney Point bridge (officially known as the Lake Champlain Bridge) should look like. The survey and PAC recommendation “will be one of many factors considered” according to officials in choosing a replacement bridge design. The co-lead agencies on the project (VAOT, NYSDOT, and FHWA) have not yet made an official decision and cannot do so until after January 11, 2010 when the comment period for Consulting Parties officially ends. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Public Meetings This Week on Lake Champlain Bridge

NYS DOT has announced a schedule of public meetings about repairs to the Crown Point Bridge and interim lake crossing options. The first meeting is tomorrow on the Vermont side. There will be a meeting in Moriah Wednesday. Details are available at this Web site the state established to provide updates about the bridge, and in a DOT press release, below: » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Helping Visitors Stop and Enjoy the Culture

As much as people in the Adirondacks go on and on about canoeing, hiking and skiing, a lot of visitors’ favorite thing to do here is drive around and look at the scenery.

In recognition of this, the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has released the first travel brochure dedicated to things to do along a single road route: the four-county, 188-mile Adirondack Trail scenic byway on Route 30 between Malone and Fonda. ANCA is also seeking grants to design brochures for some of the region’s 11 other designated “byways.”

Since its founding in the 1960s, ANCA has promoted what it called “touring routes” as a means to encourage tourism and economic development, says program coordinator Sharon O’Brien. When New York State instituted a Scenic Byways program in the 1990s, the independent agency changed its labeling but kept encouraging motorists to visit small North Country towns and spend some time and money.

ANCA’s June 2009 “Adirondack North Country Scenic Byways Market Trend Assessment,” a survey of 300 motorists visiting the area, found, “When rating the activities most important to their overall experience and enjoyment, respondents said that driving through the areas, and enjoying the scenery, views of lakes, forest, and mountains were the most important activities while traveling in the Adirondack North Country region, and the reasons they have memorable visits.”

ANCA’s survey also found visitors generally like outdoor recreation; enjoying scenic views of lakes, forests, and mountains; visiting museums or historic sites; and getting out on the water. They also like “activities that take place outdoors, are relaxing, are family-oriented and that offer a change of pace.”

The new four-season Route 30 guide gives visitors ideas and directions on how to find “easy access to nature, history, and culture,” ANCA said in a press release. It suggests stops at obvious attractions like the Wild Center in Tupper Lake as well as local-knowledge places like the South Main Street Fishing Area in Northville or Arsenal Green Park in Malone. “It promotes something unique for visitors to stop and do in each community, thus providing new visibility for those locales with limited marketing budgets,” ANCA said.

The promotional piece complements ANCA’s new Scenic Byways website, which so far profiles individual communities in ten counties along three byways. The contents of the brochure and website are based on “travelers’ interests such as their desire for authentic/real experiences as documented in the 2009 Byway Market Trend Assessment.”

34,000 brochures will be distributed to visitor centers, museums, Chambers of Commerce and other tourist stops across the North Country. The project was funded by the New York State Department of Transportation’s Scenic Byways Program through the Federal Highway Administration and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. For further information on ANCA’s Scenic Byway Program contact Sharon O’Brien at anca-obrien@northnet.org or 518-891-6200.

Photograph courtesy of ANCA


Sunday, September 6, 2009

APA Meeting: Wind, Snowmobiles, Cell Towers, DOT, Lows Lake

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 9 through Friday September 11 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook. Meeting topics (detailed below) will include: two new cellular towers in North Hudson; the expansion of Adventure Bound Camps; a new permit application for wind energy projects; the 2009 New York State Draft Energy Plan; an agreement on travel corridor management between the Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the APA; DEC and APA guidance for snowmobile trail construction and maintenance; the classification proposals for land and water in the vicinity of Lows Lake and the Five Ponds Wilderness Area. The September meeting will be webcast live on the Agency’s homepage; meeting materials are available for download at http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Mailing/0909/index.htm » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Comments Sought on Route 28 Widening, Maintenance

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold a legislative hearing on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at the Forestport Town Hall on a proposed widening and improvement of a ten mile stretch of Route 28 from Route 12 (in Forestport, Oneida County) to the Moose River in the Town of Webb (Herkimer County). The project sponsors, NYSDOT and National Grid, will also be there to answer questions or address concerns about the design of the project. APA staff will be available to discuss the permitting process. The legislative hearing will start at 6:15pm.

Here is a description of the project and other details on the meeting which were supplied by the APA:

The project begins approximately 6 miles north of the intersection of Routes 12 and 28 in Alder Creek and terminates at the Moose River in McKeever for a total project length of approximately 10.3 miles. The project consists of resurfacing a section from the southerly limit of the project for a length of approximately 2 miles; a reconstruction section for approximately 2.5 miles through Woodgate and a portion of White Lake; resurfacing a section with minor widening for a length of approximately 1.5 miles through a portion of White Lake; and resurfacing a section for the remainder of the project for a length of approximately 4.5 miles through Otter Lake to the Moose River in the Town of Webb. There will be utility relocations throughout the reconstruction section to provide a minimum offset from the edge of travel lane of 16 feet. There will be additional isolated utility pole relocations within the resurfacing sections to provide the same 16 foot offset.

PURPOSE OF MEETING: This is an informal legislative hearing conducted by the Adirondack Park Agency pursuant to APA Act section 804(6) to receive public comment on the proposed project. The hearing will include introductory presentations on the project design by the NYS Department of Transportation and National Grid. Agency staff will take notes on the public comment. Comments may be submitted by verbal statements during the hearing or by submitting a written statement. Agency Board Members and Designees may be present to hear the public comments. The Agency Board will make its decision on the project at one of its monthly meetings at some time in the near future.

GOAL OF THE MEETING: To allow the public to express concerns regarding this proposed project and how it may positively or negatively impact individual properties or the community.

MEETING FORMAT: NYSDOT, National Grid and APA personnel will be available from 5:30 to 6:15, prior to the formal presentation, to address any questions or concerns that individuals may have about the design of the project or the APA permitting process. At 6:15 APA Deputy Director Mark Sengenberger will commence the formal portion of the hearing. He will introduce NYSDOT and National Grid personnel who will make brief presentations concerning the project objectives, scope, schedule and cost. During the presentations, the public can ask questions for clarification purposes only. Following the presentations, members of the public will have the opportunity to make brief verbal statements about the project. There will be a sign up sheet for any persons wishing to make public comment. In order to allow everyone to speak who wants to, comments will be limited to no more than 3 minutes in length and speakers will go in the order that they signed up. Members of the public can provide additional written comments to the Agency at or after the meeting. Town of Forestport and Town of Webb officials will be present and introduced at the meeting.

APA Project No. 2008-0216

NYSDOT PIN: 2018.60


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tri-Lakes Power Line Close, More Lines Proposed

We’ve moved one step closer to having a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot in November that affects a corner of the Adirondack Park in Colton in St. Lawrence County. Monday the NYS Senate passed (62-0) a bill that would allow the construction of a power line from Stark Falls Reservoir to the Village of Tupper Lake. The supplemental line would pass through a section of Route 56 roadside within the Adirondack Forest Preserve between Seveys Corners (near the Carry and Starks Falls reservoirs) and the hamlet of South Colton. The line is part of a project to improve power reliability for the Tri-Lakes communities of Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Route 28 Project Includes Large Clear-Cuttings

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks is calling upon the heads of the Public Service Commission (PSC), Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Conservation (DEC), New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to adopt “the highest standards for protecting the wild forest character of the Adirondack Park when reconstructing electric power lines and highways.”

Through a freedom of information request, the group received documents about an incomplete application now being reviewed at the APA for highway and power line reconstruction and realignment which would in their words “effectively clear-cut forests along 7.4 miles of scenic State Route 28 in the southwestern Adirondacks.” The route extends from Forestport to the South Branch of the Moose River in the Adirondack Park. Sections of this route involve the “forever wild” public Forest Preserve.

The application calls for a new “tree management area” that would mean the removal of all trees for 37.5 feet on either side of new utility poles, throughout the length of the highway project. The poles, which are now along the road, would be moved 16 feet from the highway edge, this area declared a “clear zone,” and the poles themselves increased in height from 40 feet to 57 feet.

David Gibson, Association Executive Director said that he was “astonished to find that the Route 28 project as currently proposed calls for clear cutting a swath of 53 feet from the highway shoulder for placement of super-sized power poles and electric lines,” adding that “clear-cutting trees in such a manner would drastically impact the Park’s scenic character, and violate numerous laws, policies and plans. The public will not stand for this kind of bad stewardship by our State agencies.”

“We contend that the Park’s history, State law, our State Constitution and, frankly, common sense, require all State agencies to take every precaution in design standards for Route 28 and for other combined highway-power line realignments throughout the Park. Our highways are the public’s window on the Adirondack Park and vital to positive public perceptions of the Park. The wild forest and rural character of the Park’s highways must be conserved,” Gibson said, calling the move an effort to “water-down” environmental guidelines by eliminating NYSERDA funding to establish a standard for the Adirondack Park for projects like the one proposed along Route 28.

Since the 1924 passage of the Adirondack Sign Law, the state has attempted to secure the scenic character of views along roadways inside the Blue Line. Scenic and historic highways programs have been developed over the years by state and local governments to exploit roadside opportunities, sometimes through significant investment.

According to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, state agencies are required to plan for these Travel Corridors to “achieve and maintain a park-like atmosphere… that complements the total Adirondack environment. Attention to the Park’s unique atmosphere is essential.” The DOT’s Guidelines for the Adirondack Park, which were approved in 2008 after disastrous roadside cutting along Routes 3 and 56, states: “The Adirondack Park is a special state treasure and our work with in its boundaries must be conducted with great care.”

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks is calling for meetings to review standards for power line and road reconstruction that preserve the scenic character of the Park’s highways as potential “greenway” corridors.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Road Salt, Moose and Other Reasons to Drive Slower

The Adirondack Council this week issued a report on drinking-water contamination and environmental damage caused by road salt throughout New York State. The advocacy group offered six steps that could curtail the pollution, such as better coordination between state and local plowing crews, preemptive deicing, and development of salt alternatives.

At the bottom of a bulleted list of recommendations was the simplest: Slow Down.

“New York should adopt an aggressive approach to encourage safer winter driving, which can include lower winter speed limits, well-placed variable message boards, and greater enforcement of safe speed limits during winter storms,” the Council said.

There are other good reasons to ease up on the gas. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ORDA, DOT Announce Mountain Valley Shuttle

The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), Essex County, and New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT), in conjunction with the towns of Jay, North Elba and Wilmington, have announced the Mountain Valley Shuttle system will begin service tomorrow (December 18th) with extended public transportation between Lake Placid and Ausable Forks. This free expanded shuttle system will tie into the year around Village of Lake Placid Xpress service. The operator of the Mountain Valley Shuttle is Ground Force 1, a Plattsburgh and Lake Placid-based transportation company.

The Mountain Valley Shuttle will include four shuttles daily from the town of Ausable Forks and the village of Jay to Whiteface. The shuttle stops are at the Ausable Forks Grand Union and the Village of Jay Park. The Town of Wilmington will have four shuttle stops a day Monday through Friday bringing passengers from the Wilmington Visitors Bureau to Whiteface, with weekend and holiday service increasing to 12 stops a day, plus additional stops at the Whiteface Chalet.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Advocates Endorse DOT’s Adirondack Guidelines

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks believes the adoption of the new state Department of Transportation (DOT) Guidelines for the Adirondack Park – also called the “Green Book” – is a significant step for the protection and sound environmental maintenance of the park’s highways and greenways.

Completion of the Green Book and its revisions was one of the primary stipulations of a legal “Consent Order” that followed the unconstitutional cutting of several thousands of trees on Forest Preserve lands along the Route 3 scenic highway corridor between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake in 2005. The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks filed a civil violation of the Forest Preserve complaint against the cutting with the NYS-DEC at the time and then worked extensively to see the provisions of a strong “Consent Order” against DOT be brought to fruition.

Association Comments on the Draft “Green Book” include:

The Association commends the Department in the tremendous amount of work undertaken in compiling the Draft NYS-DOT Guidelines for the Adirondack Park. The document in and of itself represents a comprehensive compendium of state policy, regulations, design criteria and case studies regarding roadway and highway engineering, design and environmental controls.

The Department is making progress on the requirements of the 2006 “Order on Consent” between the DEC, DOT and APA which required inclusion of policies directing the DOT with regard to addressing hazard tree management within the Adirondack Park, verifying the specific requirements for the application of needed temporary revocable permits (TRPs) and designating accountable Department staff expertise needed to guide and monitor parkwide program implementation. The DOT parkwide engineer position held by Ed Franze was one of AFPA’s recommendations.

The Association is also pleased that the Department has produced the Appendix Q outlining the “Environmental Commitments and Obligations for Maintenance (ECOM) that includes the environmental checklist for NYSDOT maintenance activities in the Adirondack Park and the outline for the needed Adirondack Park Baseline Maintenance Training program.

However, the Association felt these sections require further consensus between the State departments and agencies and public stakeholders in order to fully protect Park resources and to prevent reoccurrences of the 2005 Route 3 tree-cutting which led to the Order on Consent.

Dan Plumley, the Association’s Director of Park Protection, also called on all three state agencies (DOT, DEC and APA) to develop unite around a joint mission to create a planning process for all highway and greenway corridors in the Park. Plumley outlined strategies the agencies should take for enhancing the Park’s scenic, natural character; support walkable communities; advance mass transit opportunities; and mitigate negative effects of roadways and traffic.

A summary of the Associations’ major comments on the Green Book are available online.


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Screwed: Adirondack Beaver Pond Hermit Alan Como

A regular reader of the Almanack sent us this article from the Chronicle writer Gordon Woodsworth with the following note:

Although I suppose I agree w/ the rational for the charge – it saves innocent victims trouble, time and expense,and I assume he’s guilty of breaking and entry and burglary. There is something a bit dark and sinister that he’s charged with the felony of cutting the State’s trees and brush to make himself a shelter in the wild. Sounds like Robin Hood’s Merry Men who were mostly criminalized for “hunting the King’s Deer.”

We couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, the heavy hand of our new-found police state isn’t above charging people for unrelated crimes to save a DA’s time. Four years is in no way an appropriate sentence for cutting $250 worth of trees.

It should be noted by the way, that no one even considered a jail sentence for whoever at DOT was responsible for cutting some 5,000 trees in the State Forest Preserve along Route 3 between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake in the summer of 2005. Our guess is no one even got a reprimand in that case.

We’re certainly not condoning a hermit’s theft of minor items from isolated camps. That’s a crime that should be punished. But the Beaver Pond Hermit case is a clear signal that if you choose to live outside the boundaries of mainstream society, you may find yourself a target for the police state.


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