NORTH HUDSON - Travelers on the Blue Ridge Road may experience a smoother ride in the near future as Essex County officials have announced $4.36 million in federal stimulus money has been slated for repaving and upgrades.
"This shows that at least some of the stimulus money is going to upstate counties," Minerva Supervisor Mike McSweeney said April 16. "It's really good news."
New York State is slated to receive a total of $24.5 billion in federal money of the next two years.
The Essex County Board of Supervisors DPW Committee moved April 13 to earmark the cash for the Blue Ridge Road project.
"This project was perfect because it was shovel-ready," Essex County DPW Superintendent Fred Buck said April 18. "Typically, we could only afford to pave 1 or 2 miles a year."
One of the requirements for infrastructure stimulus funding is that the project can begin nearly immediately.
Buck said that a 17 mile stretch will receive new pavement and guide-rails.
"Blue Ridge Road really needed it," Buck said. "We haven't touched it in 10 years - it is one of the longest roads in the county."
Much of the road runs through the town of Newcomb and four miles fall within Minerva, officials said.
The section slated for repair runs from North Hudson to Newcomb.
"We will get it done in one shot instead of piece-meal," Buck said.
Some local officials have questioned the reasoning behind choosing the Blue Ridge Road over more highly-traveled thoroughfares.
"Why are they doing this particular road?" asked Minerva Councilman Steve McNalley. "A lot more people travel on other county roads which are also in rough shape."
County officials said that the Blue Ridge Road was chosen because it hasn't been worked on in a decade.
"We will be working on all but one mile of Blue Ridge Road," Buck said. "That one mile stretch is forever wild so we can't touch it."
The project will likely be under way within the next two months.