Paving the way for Ironman success

JACK LaDUKE/P-R PHOTOAssemblyman Dan Stec (left), State Sen. Betty Little and New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll look over the site of a major bridge project in Lake Placid. The work is expected to be completed in the summer of 2017.

LAKE PLACID — Several entities will work together to ensure a 1.1-mile stretch of Bobsled Run Road leading to the Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex is ready in time for next year's new Ironman 70.3 event.

The New York State Department of Transportation, Olympic Regional Development Authority, Essex County, Town of North Elba, Village of Lake Placid, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and Ironman are partnering for the project.

"Ironman is an integral part of the North Country’s economy, and this partnership will be a win for competitors, fans and visitors,” said DOT Commissioner Matthew Driscoll, who was in Lake Placid to promote the project.

“Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Department of Transportation are excited and proud to support the community with road and bridge improvements.”

PAVING PLANS

The full-distance Ironman Lake Placid is held every summer.

Next year, on Sept. 10, it will be followed with the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Lake Placid race.

To get ready, DOT workers will pave Bobsled Run, home to ORDA’s cross-country ski and biathlon center, combined bobsled/skeleton/luge track and the 1932 and 1980 Olympic bobsled track.

Funds for materials and equipment will be provided through the other entities involved.

BRIDGE WORK

While in the area, Driscoll visited DOT work sites on nine bridges on Route 73 in North Elba and Keene in Essex County.

They are among 105 bridges included in Cuomo’s program of upgrades and retrofits.

The bridges were built to the codes and standards of their time and remain safe and open for everyday traffic, DOT said in a news release.

"However, due to a variety of natural severe weather events and the increasing frequency of major storms and floods, they are now vulnerable to scour caused by the intensity and velocity of water from extreme natural events," the agency said.

DOT is taking down two 84-year-old bridges in North Elba that cross the West Branch of the Ausable River near the 1980 Olympic ski jumps.

Under a $7.25 million project, they will be replaced with a single bridge.

Work started this spring and is expected to be open to traffic by spring 2017, with completion by the end of next year.

Driscoll also checked on the $15.6 million replacement of seven bridges on Route 73 in Keene.

The work is designed to make the new bridges less flood-susceptible by increasing waterway openings, improving alignment with the waters they cross and enhancing scour resistance.

The Route 73 bridge over the Johns Brook overflow in Keene Valley was finished last year, and the remaining six bridges should be done by the end of 2016.

SAFETY CITED

"It’s not only the world-class Ironman athletes but the visitors and area residents who need to know they can count on safe roads and bridges while traveling through and appreciating the beauty of our Adirondack mountains," Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) said.

Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) referred to the "unprecedented amount of bridge work in the North Country" and said he is pleased "that it is proceeding on schedule for a successful completion.”

Other officials praised the local DOT projects, as well.

Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman and Keene Supervisor Bill Ferebee noted "transportation is a key component to our economy," and North Elba Town Supervisor Roby Politi called the work "an essential improvement."

Noting that the village recently signed contracts to extend the Ironman Triathlon five more years and add the half-distance event, Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall said: "This provides a significant boost to Lake Placid’s economy during that time of the year."

The changes will not only improve the race course, he said, but also upgrade the entrance to the bobsled, biathlon and Nordic facilities.

DOT "has been incredibly supportive of the Ironman event through each of its 18 years," said Jeff Edwards, vice president of North American operations for Ironman.

"We look forward to sharing in that commitment to improve our local infrastructure.”

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