Rte. 214 and Silver Hollow Road slipping away due to erosion
By Jay Braman Jr.
A precarious section of Chichester’s Silver Hollow Road is at risk of slipping into the drink and state Route 214 is next, residents say, and this week those that live on the dead-end road are warning a host of governments that they would be liable if something happens.
Mack Lipkin and Bruce Barry have sent a letter to everyone from Shandaken Highway Superintendent Eric Hofmeister to Congressman Maurice Hinchey and Governor David Paterson stating that the problem is now years old and that something needs to be done.
“Over four years ago the issue of the collapsing area (and potential liability) associated with the former trestle bridge over Stony Hollow Creek, adjacent to Silver Hollow Road in Chichester, where Schweitzer Road originates, was brought to the attention of the town, county and state repeatedly and variously,” they wrote. “The town is responsible for Silver Hollow Road. The county owns the collapsing area. The state is responsible for Route 214 and the health of the creek. Nothing has been done except responsibility shifting and passive inaction. Postponing the inevitable is inevitably more costly. We write to ask that you immediately act to prevent loss of life, livelihood, natural resource, and loss of access to our two roads.”
During the April 3, 2005 flood the abutment for the long gone trestle bridge was undermined by the strong currents and it collapsed, causing the 20-foot-tall stream bank to wash away right up to the Silver Hollow Road guide rail. The problem is just 20 yards upstream from a 300-foot section of the road that completely washed out in the flood of 1996. On the other side of the stream is Route 214 atop a 40-foot cliff.
The letter was accompanied by a petition signed by 37 Silver Hollow residents, whose key concerns include:
It presents an attractive nuisance— unaware adults and vulnerable children have been observed playing on the collapsing area at their peril.
Silver Hollow Road may collapse in part or entirely, rendering it and Schweitzer Road impassable, and depriving those down road of access to their property, homes, and livelihoods.
That collapse of the bank, especially during low water, could result in stream blockage and back up flooding.
That the hillside between the stream and State Route 214, above where the bank has already collapsed is evidencing weakening which is inexorably moving up towards 214, which itself will in due course collapse with loss of access north and south.
They ask officials to cease what they call “passive surveillance” and take decisive action to resolve the instability of the area, prevent damage to and loss of use of Silver Hollow Road, Route 214, and Stony Clove and Warner Creek, and ensure that no one is hurt due to inaction.
“Please take leadership, convene the relevant parties and act before it is too late,” the letter states. “…When the sorts of problems described above ensue from years of failure to act reasonably to prevent them, then the governments and officials involved are responsible. Please protect us and yourselves.”