A rest area on the Adirondack Northway in Essex County that the state closed years ago is returning as a “text stop” along the interstate for drivers who want to answer their messages and emails while avoiding a ticket for distracted and unsafe driving.
The stop, located at the northbound rest area that closed during a state budget crunch in 2010, returned to limited service Friday as a place for motorists to pull off the highway to deal with their electronic devices’ demands, state officials said.
“Motorists should never text while driving, and this new text stop gives them one more location to pull over and check and respond to messages in a safe manner before continuing on their journey,” acting Department of Transportation Commissioner Cathy Calhoun said.
The stop, which used to be known as the South Schroon rest area, overlooks part of scenic Schroon Lake and the Pharoah Lake Wilderness to the east. It will have parking for 13 vehicles, including handicapped individuals, and four spaces for large trucks. It will not have restrooms, however; the nearest restrooms will continue to be at the High Peaks Rest Area, about 17 miles farther north.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pushing the concept of text stops on the state’s interstate highways since 2013, as part of a campaign that also includes enforcement of laws against texting and driving. Other rest stops on the Northway have signs on the highway promoting them as “text stops,” and rest areas and pull-offs along the state Thruway and other interstates are also being promoted as “text stops.”
“It sends a clear message that there is no excuse for drivers to take their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because texts can wait until the next text stop,” DOT officials said in a news release.
The Northway is a gateway to the High Peaks, Essex Chain and Boreas Ponds areas of the Adirondacks for thousands of people each week, laying at the heart of an area Cuomo has been promoting as a tourism destination. More than 8,000 vehicles per day on average use that section of the Northway.
Local officials described the new stop as a good tourist amenity, as well as expressing hope that the view overlooking Schroon Lake will encourage people to get off the Northway and visit the small community of Schroon Lake. The text stop is between Exits 27 and 28, both of which can lead motorists to drive a few miles to reach the hamlet of Schroon Lake, which sits at the northern end of the 9-mile-long lake.
“Opening the South Schroon rest area as a text stop is great news,” Schroon Town Supervisor Mike Marnell said. “This is the most scenic location on I-87. After viewing Schroon Lake and the surrounding mountains, I am sure travelers will visit our town’s stores, public beach, restaurants, motels and our nine-hole golf course.”
The rest area on the southbound side of the Northway directly across from the new text stop remains closed. That rest area also closed in 2010, but the cause was a failing septic system. It is unclear whether there are any plans to restore that rest area as a texting stop.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County