Press-Republican

April 4, 2013

YouTube video prompts DOT action

BY LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — NEWCOMB — A comical video ribbing the Department of Transportation for the ragged condition of Route 28N from Newcomb to Long Lake has apparently spurred the state into action.

The seven-minute episode, entitled “State Route 28N: Part of the Purchase,” had almost 5,000 hits on YouTube as of Wednesday morning.

It begins with Newcomb Town Planning Board member Paul Hai and cinematographer Matt Klippel purchasing cups of hot, steaming coffee at the High Peaks Kitchen in Newcomb, then trying to keep their drinks from spilling all over while driving bumpy Route 28N to Long Lake in Hamilton County.

A Bobblehead doll of Gov. Cuomo sits taped to the dash of the car as they drive, bouncing as each pothole is hit.

‘A LOT OF FUN’

Hai commissioned the video and stars in it.

“The goal was to have a lot of fun,” Hai told the Press-Republican. “We wanted to balance our observations with people who are really impacted by driving the road. We stopped people driving to Newcomb and asked if they wanted to talk.”

One of them was Long Lake resident James Jennings, who is featured in the video talking about Route 28N while standing next to his red Jeep.

“I could see where you could lose control, if you hit some of those bumps too fast,” Jennings says.

LAST REPAIRED IN 1979

Pocked with holes from heavy log trucks and filled with large frost heaves from a frigid winter, the 30 miles of Route 28N through Minerva and Newcomb to Long Lake are driveable only at speeds a fraction of the 55 and 45 mph speed limits on the road.

The state last resurfaced Route 28N in 1979, and it had previously announced 1.5 miles would be addressed this year, along with planning for a reconstruction project that would start in 2014.

PROJECT SPEEDED UP

On March 29, five hours before the state reversed itself, a link to the video was posted on Capital Confidential, an Albany website monitored by the Governor’s Office.

DOT spokesman Beau Duffy issued a statement that said Gov. Andrew Cuomo and DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald want the road rebuilt as soon as possible.

“At the direction of Governor Cuomo and Commissioner McDonald, repairs to 28N will take place on an expedited basis, commencing in the coming weeks,” Duffy said. “Route 28N is a critical part of the North Country’s infrastructure that is in need of repair.”

DOT representatives were in Newcomb Tuesday, Hai said, and met with them over the now-priority project.

“Our meeting with DOT was very encouraging, and they are setting to work immediately on plans. Once those are done, we’ll meet again to review work and timing, which we all are committed to moving forward as fast as possible.”

PATCHING FIRST

Hai said they realize it will take time to rebuild Route 28N.

“Rebuilding a road isn’t something you talk about in April and start in June. We discussed realistic timelines, when can we get roadbed testing done, when can we get contracting awarded. To rebuild a road is a two-year project.”

About all DOT would be able to do this summer is patching, Hai said.

“We’ve had an opportunity to redo the priority of rebuilding Route 28N. We’re starting two years earlier. This (approach) has been more successful than we wildly dreamed.”

It all started with a letter-writing campaign and petition drive directed at DOT, Hai said. Then came the video.

“We seem to have to have done OK with that. We were trying to increase the exposure even more and made the video to highlight the issue.”

‘HORRIBLE SHAPE’

Newcomb Town Supervisor George Canon said the video was both entertaining and informative.

“It made an impact. Route 28N is a major road, and most of it is in horrible shape. It can damage your car. It’s also called the Roosevelt-Marcy Byway, and I don’t think our past president would be happy to see his name on that road with the condition it’s in.”

Minerva Town Supervisor Sue Montgomery Corey said she was also elated to find the state would rebuild Route 28N sooner.

“Route 28N is in bad shape in Minerva, as well. Our infrastructure needs work. It seems like we’re too remote to get much attention.”

‘CRITIC’

DOT understands the issue and is taking action, Duffy said.

“Ensuring that the road is well maintained is critically important to our efforts to increase tourism to the area and showcase the jewel that is the Adirondack Park. More importantly, however, local residents simply should not have to put up with substandard and potentially dangerous road conditions.”

Route 28N is a main tourism corridor, Hai said, and part of their efforts to improve the community.

“Over the past three years, Newcomb has completed comprehensive and road-corridor strategic-planning efforts, with the goal of improving our town and our economy.

“To be told our road does not warrant improvement, we felt, was the wrong answer.”

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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SEE THE VIDEO On YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuv0_cP-0yU