ST. HUBERT'S - State Route 73 is open again from Keene Valley to the Adirondack Northway (I-87), a few days ahead of schedule.
The road was closed for more than two weeks after being washed out in sections by Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 28. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a week ago that it would reopen to one lane of traffic on Sept. 15 and to two lanes two days later. However, both lanes were opened Monday.
"It doesn't happen every day where government actually exceeds the deadline," Cuomo said Monday, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the road's reopening.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks in St. Hubert’s late Monday morning at a ceremony marking the reopening of state Route 73 between Keene Valley and Adirondack Northway Exit 30. Behind him, from left, are Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government Dede Scozzafava, state Sen. Betty Little and Keene town Supervisor Bill Ferebee.
(Enterprise photo — Nathan Brown)
The other speakers - state Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald, state Sen. Betty Little, Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward and Keene town Supervisor Bill Ferebee - praised Cuomo's leadership and the work of the contractors that made it possible to reopen the road.
"So often we feel our ... higher government forgets us up here, but the governor showed Essex County and Keene are not forgotten," Ferebee said.
"We can all be lucky to be New Yorkers right now," Sayward said. "We have a leader who's going to stay with us past Irene, and we're going to do great things together."
Route 73 between Keene Valley and the Northway's Exit 30 is the main connection between the Lake Placid and Saranac Lake area and points south. Cuomo said a week ago, while in Keene, that reopening the road would be a top priority. Some of the initial estimates had said it would take two months.
"You know how important 73 is as a main access artery," Cuomo said Monday. "Two months would've been devastating."
Essex County suffered millions of dollars worth of damage to infrastructure and hundreds of residences and businesses due to the storm and the associated flooding. Even businesses that didn't suffer economic damage have seen losses due to fewer visitors and consequently lower revenues, Little said. Now the road is open in time for the fall foliage season, a popular time to visit the area.
The DOT deployed 27 contractors, whose crews worked 2,700 man hours, to repair the road McDonald said. The job required 150,000 tons of stone, three excavators and two loaders.
"Their team worked tirelessly to get us open ahead of schedule," Ferebee said.
Cuomo said the effort to reopen the road is an example of government working properly.
"People came together, worked together and did what they had to do," he said.