Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston and New York State Assemblyman San Stec speak at the Nov. 20 announcement of funding for the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway.
Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said that he is always pleased when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo visits the area.
Preston added that he felt Cuomo’s visit Nov. 20 was made even more special, “when he comes with $12 million for you.”
That is the amount the state will use to fund repairs to the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway, Castle and Summit Building.
“The highway has been a concern of mine ever since I took office,” Preston said. “I can’t tell you what this means to Wilmington and to the region. This will preserve a treasure in the North Country for years to come.”
“The Veteran’s Highway has been in a bad state of repair for a very long period of time,” Cuomo said in making the announcement at the Lake Placid Conference Center. “It is a great tourism attraction but it needs a lot of work. As a monument to our veterans, it should be in top flight shape."
“Whiteface Mountain is a special place within the state of New York,” ORDA Chair Pat Bennett said. “It is our responsibility to keep these assets in good shape and Gov. Cuomo recognizes the importance of these ski areas to the economy of the North Country. This will enhance our efforts to make Whiteface Mountain a destination in the state and make our North Country economy more viable.”
“The highway is just the most gorgeous spot in the world,” Sen. Bettly Little said. “Gov. Cuomo knows how important tourism in to all of us here and it is wonderful that they would make this kind of investment here.”
“This is the product of allowing our own communities and region to pave their own roads to economic success,” Assemblyman Dan Stec said.
“I am so thrilled the state is stepping up to fund these repairs,” Jay Supervisor and Essex County Chairman Randy Douglas said.
“It is a wonderful day to have the Governor come up here and lay that news on us,” ORDA President and CEO Ted Blazer said. “They have laid out a great plan to get the facility up to tip-top condition.”
Blazer said that the road would continue to be a seasonal use highway.
“When we toured the area with the state (Nov. 19), it was wild and woolly up there and we are just getting into November,” Blazer said. “We will rely on DOT to come up with the plan and then we will work closely with them to get the proper permitting in place.”
Blazer said that the construction may cause some disruptions in traffic patterns.
“It will involve some change in the normal operating schedule,” he said. “We will work with the DOT to see how we can have traffic move around during the heaviest parts of the tourism season.”
DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said that the state will look for contractors with the, “best value,” to work on the project.
“We will sit down with everyone involved and weigh our options,” McDonald said. “We will look at the impacts of a complete closure, alternating one lane of service or the traditional phased plan. What we will look for is the way to get this done as quickly as possible as we deal with the weather and tourism.”
Open from mid-May to mid-October each year, the highway is traveled yearly by more than 28,500 vehicles as well as numerous cyclists and hikers that traverse the eight-mile scenic roadway to the 4,867 foot high peak of Whiteface Mountain. In October 2008, the complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The highway has not been resurfaced since the early 1960s.