Rifenburg Construction of Albany has been awarded an $11.2 million contract to reconstruct and rehabilitate the popular Whiteface Mountain Veterans’ Memorial Highway in Wilmington, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday.
“The Whiteface Mountain Veterans’ Memorial Highway is a vital asset for the North Country and New York, drawing visitors from around the globe to enjoy unparalleled views from the High Peaks,” Cuomo said. “But for too long Albany ignored the fact that this highway had fallen into disrepair.”
The improvement project will involve the full eight-mile length of the highway, from Route 86 to the top of the 4,865-foot mountain. The New York Works program will provide the funding.
Field work is expected to begin later this spring, depending on the weather, and be finished by the summer of 2015.
“This highway is a key asset for tourism in the Adirondacks, providing a unique opportunity for thousands of visitors each year to see and experience the Adirondacks in a special way,” said Garry Douglas, president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and co-chairman of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.
Opened in 1935, the road up the state’s fifth-highest peak attracts more than 28,000 vehicles per year, as well as numerous cyclists and hikers — even skiers, in the wintertime. The highway itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The project will involve reconstruction and rehabilitation of the driving surface to make for a smoother ride, Cuomo’s office said. Culverts will be repaired or replaced to improve drainage.
The project will also involve the restoration of many of the historic elements put into place under the road’s original design, such as restoring the 10-foot-wide travel lanes and two-foot paved shoulders, fixing rock walls and resetting the quarry stone barriers along the road.
Work will also include improving the septic system that services the “castle” at the summit, and replacing the water line that supplies water to that building.