MORIAH-Moriah leaders hope to meet with state officials to discuss possible solutions to flooding in the "rock cuts" along Route 9N/22 south of Port Henry.
That section of highway was closed several days as the Lake Champlain water level crested and has been limited to one lane by flooding for the past two weeks as water recedes.
"The 'rock cuts' really create major problems," Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. "It's the main artery in and out of the town of Moriah and village of Port Henry traveling north and south. When they close the 'rock cuts' it creates a very difficult situation."
The New York State Department of Transportation is aware of the problem, according to Carol Breen, senior public information officer with the state DOT.
"We are aware that there is interest in a meeting, but we have not yet been contacted with details," Breen said. "We would be glad to meet with state and local officials to discuss options for this area. At this point we do not have any capital or maintenance project scheduled to raise the road."
A low section in the state road that is within feet of Lake Champlain, the "rock cuts" routinely floods, Scozzafava noted.
"This has been an on-going issue for years," he said. "That road has been closed in all seasons, not just spring. It's an issue every time there is high water. The state of New York needs to step up to the plate and resolve this problem."
When the state closes that portion of highway traffic is detoured to town-owned Edgemont Road and the South Moriah Road.
"Those are secondary roads," Scozzafava said. "They weren't built to withstand that type of traffic flow. The roads are stressed by the weight of trucks and the people in those residential areas are disrupted by the heavy traffic."
Speed enforcement is a major problem on local roads when Route 9N/22 is closed, the supervisor said.
"It creates chaos in those neighborhoods," he said of the detour.
Raising the road through the "rock cuts" - it's distance of less than 100 yards - would seem an easy solution, but environmental concerns complicate the process. The Adirondack Park Agency has declared the area a wetland and must approve any changes to the road.
That's why Scozzafava has enlisted the aid of state Sen. Betty Little to set up a meeting with officials from the APA, state Department of Transportation, state Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"This has been an ongoing issue for years," Scozzafava said. "In 2005 we had a meeting with the APA, DEC, DOT and Army Corps of Engineers. I really thought something would be done at that time. Unfortunately, nothing ever happened.
"I'm hopeful all the state agencies will work together here," he continued. "Although there may be environmental concerns, I'm more concerned with public safety and the possible loss of a life someday."
Scozzafava said he specifically addressed the "rock cuts" issue with Gov. Andrew Cuomo when the governor visited Moriah recently to view flood damage.
Despite his efforts to garner state support for a solution to the Route 9N/22 problem, Scozzafava remains skeptical about getting state help since the state is facing budget issues.
"I realize the state is broke," Scozzafava said, "but the one thing taxpayers rightfully expect is to have safe highways."