LAKE PLACID - More than two dozen guests who had been stuck at the Adirondak Loj since Sunday were finally able to go home Thursday, after crews made temporary repairs to a bridge that was heavily damaged by flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Irene.
The bridge was opened to one-way traffic late Wednesday, according to Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Executive Director Neil Woodworth. ADK runs a lodge, campground and information center at the Loj, which is also the busiest trailhead to the High Peaks Wilderness.
"Our guests will be going home today," Woodworth said Thursday morning. "We have one lane across the bridge going into Adirondak Loj."
An excavator works Thursday on a bridge over the Adirondack Loj Road outside Lake Placid. The bridge had been closed for four days due to flood damage from Tropical Storm Irene, stranding guests at the Loj, but it was reopened to one-way traffic late Wednesday.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
Access to the Loj was cut off late Sunday when the raging flood waters from Irene wrecked a bridge on Adirondack Loj Road, just past the intersection with South Meadow Road. Part of the bridge collapsed, sheets of pavement were ripped to pieces, and the bridge's guiderails were left hanging in the air.
Woodworth said about 30 people who had been staying at the lodge and campground weren't able to leave because the bridge was unsafe to cross. He said roughly eight ADK staff were also stuck on the property and did their best to keep the guests happy during their extended stay.
"My understanding is that we cared for them well and the people were very appreciative of the staff," Woodworth said. "Our staff really rose to the occasion."
Contractors hired by Essex County placed several tons of fill on the damaged section of bridge and compacted it in order to make it passable to vehicles. An excavator was working at the site Thursday to further reinforce the bridge.
The Loj Road itself remains closed to all but local traffic, in part because of the condition of the bridge but also because the state Department of Environmental Conservation has closed all trails to the eastern High Peaks, Dix Mountain and Giant Mountain wilderness areas, which were battered by the storm. DEC forest rangers have been stopping traffic at the intersection of Adirondack Loj Road and South Meadow Road, directing hikers and backpackers to other destinations.
The large trailhead parking lot on ADK's property, along with the Loj and campground, are typically filled to capacity on Labor Day weekend. This year they'll be strangely quiet.
"We contacted all the people who had reservations this weekend from the campground folks to the people who had reservations in the lodge to tell them we're closed this weekend," Woodworth said. "It's a tough hit for us financially. But it's a tough financial hit for many inns, bed and breakfasts, hotels and other hospitality businesses throughout the Lake Placid, Keene and Keene Valley area."