Sunday, May 1, 2022

Work underway to replace Route 73 roadside barriers

guide rails route 73 road work
Concrete Barricades to be Replaced with New Railing to Allow For Unimpeded Views; Segments of Route 73 to Be Resurfaced

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez announced that work is underway on a $8.3 million project to replace concrete barriers and portions of guiderail along three segments of State Route 73 in the towns of Keene and North Elba, Essex County, with new railing that will allow travelers to better enjoy the scenic views while maintaining safety. The project includes a stretch of Route 73 along Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes that is part of the annual Lake Placid Ironman course. Work will be completed by late fall, ahead of the Lake Placid 2023 International University Sports Federation (FISU) World University Games coming this January.

Route 73 through Keene and North Elba is a scenic road through the Adirondacks. It is a major connector between the Adirondack Northway (Interstate 87) and the Village of Lake Placid, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.

The work along Route 73 will occur:

  • Near Bullet Pond, approximately 2.2 miles north of the intersection with U.S. Route 9
  • Between Chapel Pond and Ausable Road
  • Along Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes

The barriers were installed in the early 2000s to replace masonry roadside barriers, and while safe, the surface underneath the barriers has deteriorated, necessitating the new installations.

Work will include new pavement on these segments of Route 73. Shoulders will be four feet wide on both sides of Route 73 along Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes, which is a stretch of road frequently used by cyclists training for the Ironman competition.

Site preparations are underway at all three locations, with weekday daytime traffic currently operating with alternating flows controlled by flaggers; this will continue as necessary through the end of April. Once site preparations are completed, motorists should watch for traffic to be reduced to a single alternating lane controlled by temporary traffic signals along these portions of Route 73.

Work along the Cascade Lakes will pause and the road will be fully open during the annual Lake Placid Ironman competition in July. Work and alternating traffic will then resume along this stretch until project completion, scheduled by late this autumn.

Photo: Will Roth, president of the Adirondack Climbers’ Coalition, stands by a section of guardrail on Route 73 that was replaced in 2021. Photo by Phil Brown

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10 Responses

  1. Issaquah semiahmoo says:

    Highway safety is greatly important.

  2. Tom Woodman says:

    I’ve long been put off by those ugly concrete barriers in an otherwise stunning stretch of road as friends who have put up with my complaining for years can attest. When feeling generous, I assumed there was some engineering reason that made them necessary. Glad to see that’s not the case.

    I’m thrilled the DOT is making this change and hope that all the concrete will disappear.

  3. chris jay cohan says:

    I wonder why they are NOT using corten steel. It is so much more attractive, unobstrusive and in keeping with surroundings

    • Brian Joseph says:

      The product continued to rust, not living up to the steel industry’s promise that the rusting would cease once the “protective patina” formed.

    • Boreas says:

      I don’t know what they are using, but I agree with you. At least on that section of scenic highway, I would prefer to see the rusty brown rails.

    • Joseph Van Gelder says:


  4. Chris Cohan says:

    Here is what I quickly found……
    The cost for corten steel guardrail systems is $47 to $50 per linear foot, or approximately 10-15% more than the costs for steel galvanized guardrail systems.

    • Boreas says:

      If current movements to reduce salt application in winter prevails, it may well correlate to longer Corten steel life. Another option if Corten steel is limited to scenic areas is the addition of zinc plates at every rail overlap where corrosion tends to be worse. This supposedly increases the cost by about 25%, but if it would be accompanied by significant longevity increases, it may be worthwhile in these areas. If NYS is intent on attracting tourism dollars, they should realize keeping up appearances is part of the price tag.

  5. Zephyr says:

    The article doesn’t say it is the Corten steel that is deteriorating. It says the problem is the ground supporting the guardrails:
    “The barriers were installed in the early 2000s to replace masonry roadside barriers, and while safe, the surface underneath the barriers has deteriorated, necessitating the new installations.”
    I’m in the camp that vastly prefers the look of the Corten steel guardrails. Sure, they don’t last forever, but a lot of them look to be in pretty good shape. Galvanized guardrail doesn’t last forever either.

    • Zephyr says:

      I will add that galvanized guardrails do probably add to driver safety just because they remain much more visible, especially in low light and at night. The rusty Corten looks “better” because it disappears against the natural background.

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