Luck Bros. Rebuilds NY28 Troublespot

Story by Matthew Phair | September 28, 2010

Summer is a great time to visit New York's Adirondack Mountains, but for some travelers the stretch of road between Eagle Bay and Old Forge has made the visit difficult. Suffering as a limited-sight area, especially where Rondaxe Rd. intersected with Route 28, the locale has seen accidents including a few fatalities in recent years, and reconstruction was necessary, including nearly 8 miles of road surface badly in need of rebuilding.

The Old Forge to Eagle Bay project involved the reconstruction of almost one mile of Route 28 in the vicinity of Rondaxe Road. The remaining sections of Route 28 from Hollywood Road (CR 216) and to the western limit of the Hamlet of Eagle Bay were resurfaced.

For years, this section of road, major repairs were put on the back burner, says NYSDOT Engineer-In-Charge Angelo DiVacarro.

"Originally it was a $13-million to $15-million job, including about 7 miles of road from Old Forge to Eagle Bay. Most of the road was going to be reconstructed. They had wanted to change the curves and change the profile." Unfortunately, DiVacarro adds, the money was pulled from the project and the scope of the job was greatly reduced.

"We resurfaced most of the road, but there was 1-mile portion, a half-mile on either side of Rondaxe Road, that had been an accident history, including a few fatalities at that intersection."

No Walk In The Park

One of the biggest challenges on the project was doing things the way the Adirondack Park Association wanted, says Ted Luck, president of the project's Plattsburgh, N.Y.-based general contractor Luck Bros.

Like working in a tight urban area, working in a "forever wild" area means "you don't stray out of the right of way," says Luck.

Other limitations on the project included avoiding shot rock or limestone for stone ditches. Instead, rock had to be granite or cobble, "so it looked like it came from the area."

Being in a remote location, getting materials to the site was also difficult. Both asphalt and concrete were supplied from plants in Boonesville, about an hour away.

While initial site borings revealed some rock at the reconstruction site, further excavation revealed a massive amount of both small and large boulders.

"The soils were very boney, glacial till with lots of boulders. So the state specified a 2-foot undercut then backfilled with select graded fill to prevent the boulders from working their way back up." Luck also put in a geotextile stabilization fabric, which will help keep the boulders down.

"It was a tremendous amount of rock that we hadn't anticipated, and in one case we actually hit bedrock where we had to do some blasting," adds DiVacarro. "We found large cobbles and large boulders, some as large as my truck. The majority of rock was too large to be used as fill and on-site crushing wasn't economically feasible. The overall amount of material moved on the job was between 20,000 cubic yards and 30,000 cubic yards, with about half of it rock."

To dispose of the rock, Luck says that waste permits for the excess fill and boulders had to be acquired. Also required were temporary check dams to prevent erosion, and the general long wait working in a "forever wild" area.

The Old Forge to Eagle Bay project begin in the summer of 2005 was completed in the fall 2006.

"I got a lot of calls this year saying the project did turn out very well," says Alice Romanych, DOT Region 2 Public Affairs director. "People didn't want to be delayed on their vacation ... maybe now they're just glad we're done."

Luck History

Formed in 1950 in Plattsburgh by James and Albert Luck, Luck Bros. is now run by the family's second generation. Run by Ted, plus two brothers and two sisters — Jeff, Chris, Cindy, and Jamie. The firm also has a building division, Luck Builders, where Jeff is president. Brother Chris is secretary of Luck Brothers, while sister Cindy does payroll, and Jamie is a project manager. The firm has a full-time staff of 15, with a fleet of 100 pieces, excavators, loaders, and dozers, in a mix of brands.

Ted Luck says with DOT work drying up, the firm is looking to expand to more private, design-build work, more developments, and infrastructure. The firm is currently working on a low-middle income, 14-unit development in Plattsburgh, putting in the roads, plus water and sewer.