Three roads in Washington County will be repaired over the next three years in an effort to shore them up and stop them from eroding into nearby waterways.
The effort is being funded through a state Regional Economic Development grant of $395,760.
The goal is to reduce erosion in Lake George and Lake Champlain, while also fixing the roads.
“It’s kind of killing two birds with one stone,” said Beth Gilles, assistant director at the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board.
The group did an extensive study of erosion that brought sediment into the lakes from five counties in 2012 and has been working to reduce those sources ever since.
The biggest project will be in Fort Ann, where stormwater is eroding the beach at Lake George. Workers will build a stormwater system along Route 32, which will also keep the stormwater from eating away at the road.
“That’s going to be a big project,” Gilles said.
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In White Creek, workers will head to Route 68.
“There’s culvert issues and eroding banks between the road and Little White Creek,” Gilles said.
Workers will also focus on Route 10 in Whitehall. The road is eroding into the tributary to Lower Poultney River.
“We need stabilization of the roadside,” Gilles said.
The work will protect fish and boaters at Lake George and Lake Champlain. Both have been troubled by sediment from road erosion.
“It has a tendency to fill in fish-spawning beds,” Gilles said. “The sediment fills in the rocky bottoms of lakes and streams where fish lay their eggs.”
These three projects won’t eliminate all sediment heading to the lakes. But the projects are big enough that they will stop the fish population from decreasing any further, Gilles said.
Sediment also makes waterways more shallow and less clear, which boaters quickly notice.
But the most insidious problem is that sediment helps some plants and creatures.
“You’ll also notice, potentially, more invasive species,” Gilles said. “It just creates habitat for invasives.”
She’s also pleased that the work will restore some county roads.
“These county roads are a lifeline for these small towns,” she said. “They need to protect the roads.”
The group has been working with the county Department of Public Works to reduce road erosion near waterways for years. It has been a successful partnership, Gilles said.
“The county DPW has really stepped up, the last few years,” she said. “They understand the environment side of things.”