“It’s a great tourist attraction, but it needs a lot of work,” Cuomo told a crowd gathered at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.
Some 28,500 vehicles drive up the mountain each year. The eight-mile road also is used by hikers, bicyclists, and skiers. It ends just short of the 4,867-foot summit, the fifth-highest in the state.
The state will pick up the entire cost of rebuilding crumbling walls, repaving the road, and repairing the tollhouse, the stone castle at the end of the road, and the elevator that takes people to the summit.
Cuomo rode up the highway earlier in the day. “That highway is a beautiful piece of history, a beautiful piece of our legacy,” he said. “It was FDR at his finest.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was governor when work on the highway began in 1929. He opened the highway in 1935, when was president. The project had cost $1.2 million.
Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston praised Cuomo for finding the money to fix the highway, which he said is a major tourist draw for his town.“Anybody who hasn’t been up that highway has no idea what they’re missing,” he said. “It’s truly magnificent. It’s a breathtaking view.”
Work on the highway is to begin in spring.
Cuomo also announced that the state will spend $35 million over five years to create a biotech partnership between the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake and Clarkson University in Potsdam. He said the initiative will shore up Trudeau, which had once considered leaving Saranac Lake. The institute employs eighty people.
“We believe we will create hundreds of jobs in this marriage between Clarkson and Trudeau,” Cuomo said.
The governor also said the state will support efforts to refurbish Hotel Saranac and build a new hotel on Lake Flower in Saranac Lake.
Photo by Phil Brown: Governor Andrew Cuomo answers reporters’ questions in Lake Placid.