Road repair a dubious proposition


To The Editor:
As residents of Hog Mountain Road, we endure along with our neighbors the inconvenience caused by the loss of the shortcut over the mountain, as reported in the Catskill Mountain News article of April 18-24, “Hog Mountain Road Repair Project Remains an Option in Middletown.” Although we do not need the shortcut to get to work, we, like our fellow homeowners along the road, have used it routinely to connect with CR 36 and as a “backdoor” to Margaretville, so we share the discomfort and discontent expressed by those petitioning for opening the road again.

But we are also taxpayers, and the idea of asking our fellow taxpayers to spend limited resources on what the article makes clear is by no means a sure thing strikes us as both unwarranted and unreasonable. Today, even a walk on this collapsed section of road is scary. To a layman, the upper slope seems a landsliding cascade waiting to happen, while the slope below the road is a disaster of erosion and undermining.

As has often been noted, we have had three major floods since 1996, and the global climate picture is clear that we are due for increased precipitation in future. The Lamont engineers say the proposed I-beam fix of the road could avoid “catastrophic failure” next time out, but what about the time after that as cars and trucks continue to thunder along the slope? Will we need to bolster or repair the road again and again?

No one can give guarantees in answer, and that’s one of the problems. Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars—not to mention the highway money being spent now to bore for bedrock, thus far without success—is a lot to spend for an uncertain outcome. Meanwhile, from Fleischmanns to Margaretville, it is painfully evident that the work of flood cleanup, rebuilding, and recovery is by no means complete. Parks, bridges, walkways, and other public facilities still need fixing.

With all due respect for our Hog Mountain Road neighbors, we wonder if now is the time to spend public money on a dubious proposition to repair a “popular” but non-essential shortcut.

Susanna Margolis and Mary Macy,