Please fix our roads, governor

An open letter to Andrew Cuomo from an Adirondack Park resident:

For as long as the Adirondack Park has existed, its existence has been based on tourism. The park itself was established because tourists wanted to see the region protected from the ravages of industry. From the Great Camps established for “private” tourism to the push to hold TWO Winter Olympic Games, tourism has been the main focus of this area and its primary source of revenue.

Yet the aspect of tourism that has been most overlooked in our region is how the tourists get to their destinations. Since decommissioning the Adirondack railroad system, there is no mass transit option to reach the park other than a ramshackle bus system with only a handful of stops within the park itself. The only airport access consists of tiny regional airstrips that can handle only the smallest of jet aircraft. For those willing to make the journey themselves, they are met with, arguably, the worst road network in the country.

For as much as you, Mr. Cuomo, tout the Adirondack Park as the tourism jewel of our state, throwing millions of dollars at townships and organizations for renovations and/or new projects does little for anyone when the real issue lies with the infrastructure to reach any of the destinations you are encouraging visitation to. Although when one’s primary mode of transportation from Albany to Saranac Lake is a state-owned aircraft, one can hardly be blamed for not noticing the condition of our state highway system. There are five state highways that traverse the park. Although a sixth should be listed since it has been forgotten by the state as well as the internet. As someone who regularly travels all of the major Adirondack highways, I can testify that they are absolute garbage. If your intention is to truly make the Adirondack Park THE tourist destination of New York, then the issue of driving here must be addressed. For the majority of the people you are encouraging to visit, there is no way of traveling here other than by personal vehicles; therefore, the roads in the Park should be maintained AT LEAST as well as any other state highway.

There is, more or less, a crater forming on a part of Route 30 that my Suzuki SX4 can fit into. It spans more than the width of the southbound lane, reaching over the yellow lines into the northbound lane and creeping across to meet the guardrail on the shoulder. To prevent significant damage being done to my vehicle, I slow down to 35 mph when crossing the pothole (although pot “hole” does not seem adequate). There is no indication that this crater is present in the road surface, besides a newly appointed “Rough road ahead” sign. In other places, the white lines and shoulders are literally sinking into the drainage ditches. Most of the road has grooves and divots worn into the tarmac from the sheer volume of traffic. But this is just one small stretch of a single highway. If one were to travel between ANY two towns in the park, all manner of road hazards will be encountered.

Now pretend you live in, work in and are a full-time resident of the park. Can you even imagine driving the roads I have described on a daily basis? EVERY SINGLE person who commutes to work ANYWHERE in the park is subject to navigating these terrible roads EVERY SINGLE day. In the last two years since moving back to New York, I have spent several thousands of dollars between two vehicles repairing the suspension damage caused by the poorly maintained roads in this state. Mr. Cuomo, if the state has the funds to provide an annual $10 million grant to towns and villages for “Main Street renovations,” and able to afford to give the Olympic Regional Development Authority $14 million to build a shiny new lodge at Whiteface, then certainly there is room in your budget to address our infrastructure problem.

Steve Maitland lives in St. Regis Falls.