Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

APA to Meet Thursday:Batchellerville Bridge, Invasives, Boathouse Regs

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting this Thursday March 11 and Friday March 12, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. Among the topics to be discussed will be amendments to the Batchellerville Bridge replacement project permit, a discussion of proposed “boathouses” and “dock” definitions, Terrestrial and Aquatic Invasive Species, amendments to the Town of Queensbury’s Approved Local Land Use Program, and a discussion of sustainable forest certification programs. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Viper’s Bugloss: An Adirondack Roadside Attraction

When summer is in full swing, it is to the meadows and fields that we must head to feast our eyes on the riotous colors of the season. Wildflowers fill the open spaces where sunlight reaches the ground. In many places within the Adirondack Park, however, the only open spaces are the shoulders of the roads. Fortunately, many plants colonize these precarious environs, their tastes turned to harsh soils and microclimates. Among summer’s roadside colonizers we find viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare), a plant that brings a bit of the sky to earth.

Viper’s bugloss (aka: blueweed, snake flower and blue devil) is one of the more attractive flowers gracing our barren roadsides. Growing upwards of a meter in height, its stem is topped with a spire dotted with many blue-pink blossoms, which open sequentially throughout the season. When the flowers first open, they are a bright rosy pink; as they age, they turn a beautiful sky blue. The long stamens, which protrude beyond the flower’s petals, remain a deep pink, giving the blossom an eye-catching “sky-blue-pink” coloration.

Most wildflowers we find blooming along our roadways are non-natives, plants that either came over with early colonists as food or medicine and later escaped from their gardens, or plants that snuck in on the shoes, clothing and other belongings of settlers from across the sea. Viper’s bugloss (pronounced BEW-gloss, by the way) falls into the former category. Back in the “old country,” which in this case is most of Europe and much of Asia, it was revered as a cure for many poisons and snake bites. The logic behind this attribution harkens back to the Doctrine of Signatures, a philosophy that declared that if a plant had a part that resembled a part of the human body, then it must be a cure for ailments of said part. With the plant in question, the seeds apparently look like snake heads, and therefore the leap of logic was that it could be used to treat snake bites.

I have a better theory. If one takes a close look at this plant, one sees that it is covered with many small hairs. These hairs are not soft and cuddly; instead, they are sharp and prickly. If grabbed with a bare hand, the plant can “bite” back, impaling its antagonist with its irritating hairs. It is possible this could feel like one has been bitten, and what would be lurking around plants in dry, barren places but venomous vipers! If one’s going to jump to conclusions, at least this one makes (some) sense.

Modern day practitioners of herbal medicines make an infusion from the leaves of viper’s bugloss to treat inflammation and melancholy, as well as to reduce fevers and relieve coughs. However, the plant is known to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, chemicals that if consumed in enough quantity can cause liver failure. In fact, the ASPCA lists viper’s bugloss as a serious toxin for horses, which will eat it if nothing else is around (so much for the deterrent quality of the prickly hairs).

Nevertheless, the plant has some redeeming qualities. In Europe Echium is harvested as an oilseed crop (technically, it is E. platagineum, not E. vulgare, that is harvested for this oil, but let’s not quibble). Apparently the oil is full of omega fatty acids, specifically gamma linoliec acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid (SdA). These two fatty acids are essential to the human body, and yet the body does not produce them; they must be acquired from outside sources.

Bees and butterflies frequent the plants, seeking the nectar within each semi-tubular bloom. I’ve watched many a bee happily bumbling along from blossom to blossom, oblivious to my curious eyes. Not only does the plant appeal to bees, but a quick scan online turned up a couple sources that sell viper’s bugloss honey, claiming it is tasty with a chewy consistency.

A member of the borage family, viper’s bugloss shares many of the same qualities of borage, including the light blue flowers, and the rapidity in which it spreads (the plants readily reseed themselves). The flowers of both are also edible: it is not uncommon for them to be crystallized and tossed in salads.

For the hobbyist who likes to try her hand at natural dying, the root is known for producing a red dye for fabrics.

Still, we must remember that this plant is not native, and thanks to its reseeding capabilities, it can spread with relative ease. As such, viper’s bugloss is considered a noxious weed in many states and eradication programs are in place to eliminate the plant where it has taken hold. I’ve checked various invasive plant lists for New York, and viper’s bugloss is not listed on any of them. So, enjoy the plant when you see it along the roadside. Take some photographs, dig up a root or two and tie-dye a t-shirt, toss some flowers in your salad, but don’t plant it in your gardens at home. Leave it along the roadside, where it can wave at passersby with its cheerful blossoms.

For some truly stunning photographs of this roadside plant, visit: http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/indexmag.html?http://www.microscopy-uk.org.uk/mag/artfeb04/bjbugloss.html


Monday, March 1, 2010

Beaver River: Dispute Over Access

Beaver River (nine year-round residents) is not the easiest place to visit. Most tourists get there by driving along remote, dirt roads to Stillwater Reservoir and then taking a boat for six miles or so to the hamlet.

For years, the Thompson family has run a water taxi between the reservoir’s boat launch and the hamlet. The Thompsons also operate a barge that ferries vehicles across an arm of the reservoir to a dirt road that can be driven to Beaver River. In winter, it’s also possible to reach the community by snowmobile.

Last year the state Department of Environmental Conservation refused to issue the Thompsons a permit to continue their water taxi and ferry, contending that the family’s operations at the state-owned launch amount to an illegal use of the Forest Preserve.

The Thompsons ran the water taxi and ferry without a permit in 2009, but it’s doubtful that DEC will look the other way this year. In January, DEC wrote a letter demanding that the family cease its operations at the launch and remove its docks from state land.

The Thompsons, who run the Norridgewock inn and restaurant in Beaver River, say DEC would cut off access to the hamlet and hurt their business.

Alan Wechsler wrote about the dispute in the March/April issue of the Adirondack Explorer. Click here to read the story.

Soon after the story’s appearance online, the Explorer received some e-mails and phone calls from owners of summer camps at Beaver River. It seems that not everyone in Beaver River supports the Thompsons. The Explorer was told that many people with camps oppose the Thompsons’ efforts to secure road access to the hamlet. These people like the isolation.

DEC is negotiating with the Thompsons to try to settle the matter, but if the talks fail, the controversy could come to a head after the ice thaws and the summer people start returning to Beaver River.

Photo by Phil Brown: The Thompson family’s barge at Stillwater Reservoir.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Champlain Bridge Business Assistance Center Established

The Albany regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC), an affiliate of the University at Albany’s School of Business, is establishing the Champlain Bridge Business Assistance Center, an “emergency outreach office” to assist small businesses that have been adversely affected by the closing and demolition of the Champlain Bridge. The Center opened Feb. 18, at 3259 Broad Street in Port Henry.

The Champlain Bridge Business Assistance Center will help interested business owners plan how to transition and maintain the viability of their businesses during construction of the new bridge. The SBDC, along with strategic partners, will offer assistance to dislocated workers who cannot afford the long commute around Lake Champlain to jobs in Vermont and may be interested in starting a business. The Albany SBDC is collaborating with the North Country SBDC located at SUNY Plattsburgh to provide staff for the counseling and outreach efforts.

Services offered will include assessment of impact, identification of NYS Champlain Bridge Relief Programs, application assistance for these programs, market research, cost analysis/financial management, identifying sources of capital and business growth strategies.

The bridge, which crossed Lake Champlain between Crown Point, NY and Chimney Point, VT, was demolished in December, cutting off a vital connection. Construction of a new bridge is expected to be complete in late summer 2011.

The SBDC program is funded through the Small Business Administration, New York State, and the State University of New York.


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.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Marcus Granger: Warren County Fiddler, Poet, Hotelman

Not long after my father purchased the Warrensburg News and its old printing plant in 1958, he found in a box of papers a small booklet entitled “Guide to Schroon Lake and Vicinity,” with Marcus E. Granger listed as the author.

The booklet had been printed in the shop eighty years earlier. Although numerous guidebooks to the Adirondacks had been published before Granger’s, his was unique in two respects. His was probably the first guidebook devoted to Schroon Lake. Dr. Durant’s Adirondack Railroad had been completed in 1872, and the station at Riverside, or Riparius, brought Schroon Lake within reach of tourists for the first time. Second, and even more remarkable, was the fact that it was written entirely in heroic couplets. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eco-driving: Squeeze More Miles From Your Car

“We’ll need gas soon,” said my friend Jim, as we drove through the Adirondack night last weekend somewhere west of Warrensburg. “I think I can make it to Exit 19.”

I glanced over at the dashboard. The empty-tank warning light was glowing yellow, the needle so far below “E” that it appeared broken. We were coming back from an all-day cross country ski trip, both of us tired and sweaty. Exit 19 was a half-hour away.

I was about to say something, but then I decided not to bother. Jim is an eco-driver. He utilizes a variety of techniques to squeeze as much mileage out of a tank of gas as possible — inflating the tires well beyond their recommended pressures, coasting down hills with the engine off, drafting behind trucks. And he doesn’t fill up his tank until it’s damn-near empty — anything less would be an admission of defeat.

All of a sudden, climbing up a hill on that dark night, the Chevy Prism engine shuddered for a moment. The prospect of walking untold miles in the dark, with the temperature just north of 0 degrees F, loomed. Then the vehicle resumed its smooth operation.

“Maybe I’d better fill up in Warrensburg,” he said.

“You think?”

As those of us who are environmentally conscious look to find better ways to help the world around us, we might look no further than our cars. While some of Jim’s eco-driving practices are rather extreme, the idea at its heart has some merit.

Go to EcoDrivingusa.com, for instance, and you’ll see a variety of easy ways to save on mileage: check tire inflation regularly, avoid sharp starts, don’t waste time warming up the engine on cold mornings, take out unneeded weight from the trunk, stay at 60 mph on the highway. You can use low-friction oil, and keep an eye on your tachometer to keep the engine revving at around 2,000 rpm, the most efficient speed. You can keep your skis in the car with the seats down, instead of putting a wind-dragging rack on the roof.

After all, when driving, say, two hours to a hike to enjoy the natural world, it seems rather hypocritical not to use best driving practices on the way.

Jim, however, goes beyond the eco-driving norm. Is it really a good idea to drive with tires inflated at 10 psi over the recommended limit? Or drive down a hill with the power brakes and steering off? Or draft only a few feet behind the truck (besides, based on the rules of physics, wouldn’t that just take away from the trucker’s mileage, resulting in zero gain)?

“You’re not an eco-driver,” I once told him on another harrowing drive with the needle on E. “You’re an ego-driver.”

“Ha ha,” he said, reaching for my least-favorite CD — a compilation of a local folk band singing bawdy drinking songs from the 1700s. Jim and I have a strange friendship.

Still, eco-driving works, according to Jim. He says his Prism routinely gets 45 miles per gallon, about 10 miles more than the car’s typical highway miles. That doesn’t make those drinking songs any easier to listen to, but it does give this eco-driving thing a little bit of street cred. And to be honest, he hasn’t run out of fuel yet — though it’s been close.

So think about some of these practices next time you’re taking your car out for a long drive. And if you’re planning to catch a ride with Jim, you might want to bring an extra gallon of gas — just in case.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Local Genius: Champlain Bridge Designer Ted Zoli

As a rule, bureaucracies and genius are incompatible. A notable exception will be found in the New York State Department of Transportation and the Vermont Transportation Agency, which recently released plans to replace an eighty year old bridge spanning Lake Champlain. Leading the team designing the new bridge is consultant Ted Zoli, a 2009 winner of a MacArthur fellowship, commonly known as the genius award.

Among other things, the MacArthur Foundation cited Zoli’s sensitivity to the context in which his “elegant and enduring” bridges are built, and Zoli clearly appreciates the natural, historical and social context of the bridge at Crown Point. » Continue Reading.


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, December 14, 2009

North Creek-Gore Mountain-Ski Bowl Shuttle Slated

A public transportation shuttle is being established in North Creek with hopes of more closely linking Gore Mountain with the village of North Creek. The shuttle will also make a stop at the historic North Creek Ski Bowl allowing skiers and boarders to take a single trail down and shuttle back up. Additional trails are expected to be open next winter.

Locally owned Brant Lake Taxi & Transport Service will operate the shuttle, which is being paid for by hotel occupancy tax receipts and local businesses. The free shuttle will run just 39 days during the ski season beginning December 19th, including weekends and holiday weeks, from 8 am to 4:30 pm, with a break for the driver’s lunchtime.

Gore Mountain spokesperson Emily Stanton told the Glens Falls Post-Star that the shuttle will provide access to North Creek village for Gore visitors who arrive at the mountain by chartered bus.

Additionally, a controversial “Gold Parking” program has been getting a lot of discussion on the lifts and in the lodges. About 200 spaces have been set aside for paid parking. The $10 fee has led to quite a debate over at skiadk.com and the Gore Facebook page.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Lake George Steamboats Resuming Service to Bolton Landing

The Lake George Steamboat Company suspended service to Bolton Landing in 2006, citing the poor condition of the town pier as its reason for discontinuing a tradition that began in the nineteenth century. Next summer, though, after a three year hiatus, the steamboats will return.

At its monthly meeting in November, the Bolton Town Board voted unanimously to accept a bid of $929,292 from The Dock Doctors of Ferrisburg, Vermont to restore the pier and to appropriate funds for the work, which is expected to be completed in July.

The Board agreed to borrow up to $650,000 from the town’s share of the proceeds from last summer’s sale of the Sagamore grant to help fund the project. “People have wanted the service back ever since it stopped,” said Bolton Supervisor Kathy Simmes. “It’s one of our town’s amenities”

Awaiting the arrival of the Lake George Steamboat Company’s Mohican had become a favorite rite of summers in Bolton Landing. As the boat’s captain blew her whistle, she was greeted to with shouts and waves from the nearby beach as well as by passengers hurrying to the pier to board.

“I was sorry to have to end service,” said Bill Dow, the president of the Lake George Steamboat Company. “As late as the 1970s and 80s, we’d have as many as 100 people waiting at the dock. In recent years, those numbers have dwindled, but we hope they can be revived.”

The new pier will not only accommodate the Mohican; the 190 ft Lac du St Sacrement will also be able to pick up passengers in Bolton Landing.

“That’s a huge advantage for the Sagamore,” said Kevin Rosa, the resort’s director of marketing and sales. “We have groups that charter the Lac du St Sacrement but those groups have had to meet the boat in Lake George Village. A shorter trip to the Bolton Pier will help immensely. “

Shoreline Cruises’ Horicon and Adirondac have also been invited to make use of the pier, as has the Sagamore’s Morgan, Simmes said.

The Town contracted with an engineering firm, Schoder River Associates, to design the reconstructed pier. According to councilman Jason Saris, the design calls for the removal of the pier’s timbers above the waterline. “Rather than replacing the wood, the pier will feature pre-cast concrete with a stone-like face that will match the sea wall,” said Saris. “It will be aesthetically pleasing and much more durable.”

Timber pilings that were attached to the face of the pier will be replaced by concrete-filled steel pilings implanted in bedrock, Saris said. “When the face of the pier deteriorated, there was nothing left to secure the pilings,” Saris said.
The LA group, a planning and design firm, has proposed a renovation of the pier’s surface, said Saris.

The plan includes removing the existing gazebo and replacing it with other seating areas, said Saris. Plans also call for doubling the capacity of the town’s public docks, allowing space for as many as sixteen boats to tie up at any one time.
“This is very significant,” said Saris. “We really wanted to increase dock space in town so people will be able to come by water to our restaurants and shops.”
Plans call for reserving at least two slips for boaters picking up or dropping off passengers, said Saris.

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror, or visit http://lakegeorgemirror.com.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Few Ways Snow Makes Tug Hill Different

Tug Hill, the 2,100-square-mile uplift west of the Adirondack Park, gets so much snow that camps are said to have entryways on the second floor in case the first floor gets snowed in. Tug Hill gets so much snow that driving through can be like traveling into a snow globe while skies remain clear north and south of the bubble. Tug Hill gets so much snow that plow drivers “plant” ten-foot-tall saplings every fall so they can see where the side of the road is.

And last week was planting time throughout Lewis County, when the “whips,” as the young limb-stripped hardwoods are called, were spaced along windswept roadsides. » 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.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Upper Hudson River Railroad Schedule Features 40-Miler

The Upper Hudson River Railroad in North Creek has announced its Fall Schedule which includes foliage rides, a BBQ trip to 1,000 Acres Ranch, and the all-day 40 Miler excursion. Regular trains will run Thursday through Sunday through Columbus Day weekend, on Columbus Day, and on Saturday and Sunday thereafter to October 25th. Regular trains include a round trip from the North Creek Station to Riparius and back including a half-hour layover at the Riverside Station. Reservations are strongly recommended for Columbus Day weekend.

Upcoming special events include:

LUNCH AT 1000 ACRES – September 30, 2009. Features BBQ lunch at the 1000 Acres Ranch. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED, 10% early bird discount. Includes a short stop at the Thurman Craft and Farmers’ Market Christmas in September at Thurman Siding.

40 MILER – Saturday October 17, 2009 – RESERVATIONS REQUIRED. The weekend after Columbus Day, features an all day excursion from the restored 90’ turntable in North Creek to the 96’ trestle where the Sacandaga River meets the Hudson.

For additional information call the Upper Hudson River Railroad at 518-251-5334 or visit their website at www.uhrr.com


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.



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