Mud and rockslide closes Route 42

By Jay Braman Jr.
A mud and rockslide has closed state Route 42 between the Town of Shandaken in Ulster County and the Greene County Town of Lexington until further notice.
All traffic is being diverted through the hamlet of Phoenicia onto state Route 214, which goes over the county line and into the Town of Hunter.
The New York State Department of Transportation set up large electronic signs alerting travelers to the detour which may be in place for several days, maybe weeks, while engineers study the slide and determine what it will take to make Route 42 ready for safe passage.

Started on Halcott Mtn.
The slide began several hundred feet up the side of Halcott Mountain on the western side of the highway in the area known locally as the Deep Notch. The area is known for the inspiring steep slopes with more than their fair share of rocks, some of which are as big as cars.
Years ago, fencing was placed in some spots to prevent rocks from sliding down and onto the road, but last Thursday at about 9:30 a.m. this slide had no such barrier. Even if there had been fencing it would have provided no match for the larger rocks which took down entire trees along the way, bouncing across the pavement and breaking through the guiderails on the road’s other side.

Cause undermined
It has not yet been determined what caused the mudslide.
The Deep Notch divides two Catskill peaks; both sub peaks of high peaks of the range. The narrow groove between the steep, high slopes on either side is also host to the Shandaken Tunnel, part of the New York City water supply system. The Deep Notch has been called “striking” and “a marvel of grandeur and beauty.” The steep slopes have made them attractive to ice climbers.
Both slopes are property of the State of New York, managed by the Department of Environmental Conservation as part of the Catskill Park Forest Preserve. The western land is in the Halcott Mountain Wild Forest and the eastern property is in the West Kill Wilderness Area. As part of the Forest Preserve they remain forever wild, in accordance with the state’s constitution.