Albany, NY (November 20, 2013)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $12 million in state funding to enable vital repairs along the eight-mile Whiteface Mountain Veterans’ Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, New York.
"The Whiteface Mountain Veterans' Memorial Highway attracts tourists, bicyclists, hikers, and sightseers from around the globe to traverse the High Peak and take in the exquisite view," Governor Cuomo said. "For too many years the Highway has been in a state of disrepair, causing serious inconveniences for motorists and bicyclists, and today the State is pleased to step up and provide the much-needed funding so major repairs can be done to restore this beautiful roadway. The North Country is truly one of the most scenic and special places on the planet, and today the State is continuing to support the region and help draw tourists and outdoor enthusiasts to come experience all the Adirondacks have to offer."
Open from mid-May to mid-October each year, the Highway is a major North Country attraction, traveled yearly by more than 28,500 vehicles as well as numerous cyclists and hikers that traverse the eight-mile scenic roadway to the 4,867 foot high peak of Whiteface Mountain. In October 2008, the complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since its opening in 1935, the Highway and stone structures of the Castle, Summit Building and road guardrails have endured multiple landslides, heavy rains and earthquakes, in addition to the region's harsh weather, high winds and freezing conditions. The roadway surface is bumpy and cracked, and the outdated drainage system has allowed conditions to deteriorate at an expedited rate. The Highway has not been resurfaced since the early 1960s.
The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), which maintains the Highway, has not been able to acquire the resources to undertake comprehensive repairs. With the Governor's announcement today, $12 million in state funding will be provided to refurbish and repair the roadway as well as enable projects to repair the castle, elevator and tollhouse. The state funds will come from NY Works, the Governor's infrastructure program which is rebuilding roads, bridges, and parks across the state.
About the Whiteface Mountain Veterans’ Memorial Highway
Dedicated to the Veterans of World War I, by New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, construction of the Highway began in 1929. Costing $1.2-million to construct, the Highway was opened September 14, 1935, by the Roosevelt, who was now the President of the United States. In addition to the highway itself, the complex includes a Toll House, a stone Castle at the upper terminus of the highway, and a stone Summit House with an elevator on the mountain peak.
In 1985, Governor Mario Cuomo rededicated the Highway to Veterans of all wars. Today, plaques can be found mounted on the north side of the Whiteface Castle.
Senator Betty Little said, “The condition of our roads and bridges is not only about safety, but also aesthetics for a region so heavily dependent upon tourism. We want visitors, whether it’s their first time here or 100th, to be able to appreciate the beauty of the region confident the roadway on which they travel is safe. The Whiteface Mountain Veterans’ Memorial Highway has been in need of serious attention for a long time. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for making this reconstruction project a priority. Announcing the state’s financial commitment this month is certainly timely in recognition of the service of our veterans.”
Assembly Member Dan Stec said, “It's an honor to be a part of this announcement today. Repairs to this historic Veterans’ Highway will allow the continuation of visitors the opportunity to enjoy this speculator view along with the historical buildings that were constructed to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans. I want to thank the Governor for his extraordinary vision and the positive impact it will have on tourism for the North County.”
Jay Town Supervisor and Chairman of the Essex County Board of Legislators Randy Douglas said, "The state's commitment to make this huge investment in the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway is great news for our community. The highway has been a staple of the North Country for decades, giving motorists some of the most beautiful scenes in the Northeast, and we are thrilled that Governor Cuomo has put forward this critical funding to restore the highway for the tens of thousands of drivers who use it each year."
Pat Barrett, Chairman, New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), said, “The Highway has an enormous economic impact to the region. Even today, the Highway continues to fulfill Governor Roosevelt’s dream of giving people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to experience unparalleled views of the Adirondack Park and beyond.”
Town of Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said, “It’s exciting that Governor Cuomo recognizes the importance of the Whiteface Veterans' Memorial Highway to Wilmington and our entire region. I’m confident that the work that will be done will stand for a long period of time and attract even more guests to this beautiful resource and to view the natural splendor of the Adirondack Park.”
NCREDC Co-chair and North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said, "New York State's investment in one of the North Country's greatest tourism destinations – Whiteface Mountain and its Veterans’ Memorial Highway – clearly demonstrates the Governor's steadfast commitment to supporting the tourism industry across New York State and compliments the North Country Regional Economic Development Council's strategy to diversify the region’s tourism/recreation-based communities to grow the economy. Repairing the Veterans' Memorial Highway will ensure visitors and nature enthusiasts alike will continue returning to Whiteface year after year and make a meaningful impact on the Adirondack economy and beyond."
NCREDC Co-chair and Clarkson University President Tony Collins said, "New York State’s investment in the Veterans' Memorial Highway reinvigorates the summit of Whiteface Mountain as a destination with unparalleled access to the splendor and vastness of the Adirondack Park for visitors and residents alike. It also renews our commitment to honor our Veterans and reflect our gratitude to the men and women who have served our country through their military service around the globe."
Timothy Barnett, Vice-President of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy/Adirondack Land Trust said, "The Whiteface Highway provides a unique opportunity for people whether they are visitors or residents, young or old, able-bodied or disabled to experience the majesty high peaks of the Adirondacks. I have traveled the Whiteface Highway all my life, on skis, running the Whiteface Road race and even by wheelchair following an accident. The road currently is in such poor condition that as a passenger riding in a wheelchair it is an extraordinarily uncomfortable experience. Governor Cuomo's commitment to restoring the Whiteface Highway will provide better access to people of all ages and abilities.”