He believes, after years of advocacy, lobbying and many discussions, that the only way to secure funding for road repairs is with a line item in the state budget.
“This isn’t going to be an easy fix,” Preston said. “And I’m concerned there are safety issues.”
He has urged the North Country Regional Economic Development Council to make Memorial Highway restoration a priority next year.
HOLES IN THE ROAD
Preston stopped to show a deep hole in the shoulder in a lower portion of the road.
There, a culvert appears to be giving way beneath the engineered surface, built on a massive wall of dry-laid stone. Most of the major areas of disrepair are located at or around the culvert system, which was designed when the road was commissioned in 1929.
“It’s drainage,” Preston said of engineering reports on the road. “The 2011 DOT engineering study found drainage was a huge part of the problem.”
Some of the holes have been pumped full of concrete.
Along another half-mile stretch near the hairpin Wilmington Turn, the shoulder was rebuilt and the barrier boulders reset.
“ORDA spent $125,000 to rebuild the shoulder,” Preston explained as he drove slowly up the historic road.
“And we’re supposed to be honoring our veterans with this?”
INTERRUPTED BY IRENE
Preston believes the Band-Aid approach to Memorial Highway repairs has to end.
“It’s been 50 years since any major work has been done on this (road),” he said. “There was supposed to be an agreement for repairs made between DOT and DEC.”
The discussion apparently stalled as the state was forced to focus on roads damaged by Tropical Storm Irene two years ago.
The first 180-degree turn, called the Lake Placid Turn, has a fresh asphalt patch where the road did wash out during Irene and was repaired.