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The Storm King Highway is a three-mile (4.8 km) segment of NY 218 between Lee Road in the Town of Highlandsmarker at the south end and the Cornwall-on-Hudsonmarker village line in Orange Countymarker, New Yorkmarker, United Statesmarker. It was built in 1916 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 in recognition of its accomplishment in civil engineering.

It is so named because it follows the west bank of the Hudson River through the Hudson Highlands to wind around the steep slopes of Storm King Mountainmarker near its north end. Here it reaches heights of up to above the water, with panoramic views of the river and surrounding mountains such as Breakneck Ridgemarker and Bull Hillmarker.

There are several small pullouts to allow drivers to stop and take in the view. When originally built, its purpose was as much to better connect Cornwall and Newburghmarker to its north with Highland Fallsmarker and West Pointmarker to its south as it was to allow motorists to take in the vistas. It took 22 miles(34 km) off that trip at the time and is used by commuters even today.

Road

The highway is a two-lane wide asphalt-paved road with double-yellow lines forbidding passing along its entire length. Its grade never exceeds 7%, and it is bounded along the river side with a rubblestone wall. No buildings of any type are located along the road, nor is there any intersection save some of the state park's trails at the designated trailhead. There are chainlink gates at either end.

Maintenance responsibilities are divided. The southern section is kept up by the New York State Department of Transportationmarker as it is a state highway, while the Palisades Interstate Park Commission (PIPC) takes care of the northern section as it runs through Storm King State Parkmarker.

Due to hazards of rockfall as well as avalanches and falling ice, the road is closed by the state Department of Transportation during periods of heavy rain or snow.

At least one motorist has died on the highway due to a snow avalanche. The incident occurred at roughly the hour in which DOT workers closed the road during a snow storm on March 13, 1993.[583342] The victim's estate and a survivor was later awarded damages in a lawsuit against the state. [583343]

On April 8, 1934, a landslide on Stormking Mountain crossed the highway and resulted in three fatalities and the destruction of three automobiles. http://www.semo.state.ny.us/programs/planning/CEMP_Final/S3.J_Landslide_Hazard_Profile.pdf

History

Since the early days of settlement, the Highlands had long been a major obstacle to travel between Cornwall and the communities to its south. In 1913 state highway commissioner Gordon Reel began to think seriously about building a new road to connect them after heavy lobbying by local business and community groups. The idea he ultimately decided on, a road along the side of Storm King Mountain, was estimated to cost $400,000($ in 2008 dollars ), far more than his department had funds available for, so the legislature had to make a special appropriation.
Gates at northern end of Storm King Highway, in Cornwall
After three years, during which surveyors sometimes had to rappel down the mountain's cliffs to mark the route, construction began in 1916. The original idea to build a tunnel was changed to a road cut into the side as lighting it would have been too expensive and it would have missed the most scenic aspects of the road. Accordingly, the specifications for the project were changed. The planned road was widened from , with a three-foot (1 m) concrete gutter.

The difficulties of building one of New York's first public roads designed for automotive use were compounded by having to make sure that debris did not hamper the operations of the New York Central Railroad's West Shore Line, which ran along the river's edge below. Dislodged boulders sometimes blocked the tracks or landed on cars, damaging them and their contents. The first contractor hired for the job soon went broke; they were replaced by the John L. Hayes Company of Yonkersmarker. Hayes, too, found the going tough, especially when U.S. entry into World War I dried up the labor supply. The PIPC soon stepped in and renegotiated the contract to account for the difficulties caused to Hayes by the unforeseen circumstance of war. It also blunted opposition to the road by developing the state park around it.

When it was opened in 1922 it shortened the distance required to travel by automobile from Newburghmarker to West Point, which are 10 miles (16 km) apart as the crow flies, by 22 miles (34 km). In 1940 this distance was further cut by the four-lane US 9W, which travels west of Storm King and is sometimes also referred to as the Storm King Highway (Route 218 is likewise distinguished as Old Storm King Highway). It remains a well-used commuter route for employees of the United States Military Academymarker who live in Cornwall. They must use alternate routes when the gates are closed, as they were for over a year following 1999 forest fires on Storm King and its vicinity.

References




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