Public service facilities and infrastructure are prerequisites for sound economic growth. The lack of facilities in the more rural areas of the region has resulted in development focused around urban centers and the larger communities that possess proper facilities.
Hamilton County is the third largest county geographically of the 62 counties in New York, yet contains the fewest total highway miles.
The lack of municipal water and sewer systems has hindered economic growth in rural areas throughout the region.
Fiber optic cable, wireless networks, high-speed internet and un-interrupted cellular service networks are available within a certain radius of Glens Falls, Plattsburgh and Lake Placid, but are not available in the more rural and isolated sections of the region.
Large sections of the region do not have access to natural gas service; it is only readily available in the urban centers and major recreation centers.
Highways and Roads
There are a total of 6,163 miles of highway and roads in the LC-LG Region.
The most significant transportation route is Interstate 87, the Adirondack Northway, which connects the region to the capital district to the south and to the Montreal, Canada region to the north. There are excellent links to the New York State Thruway as well as the Canadian highway system.
There are also three United States highways, Route 4 (Washington County to Vermont), Route 9 (Warren County to Clinton County) and Route 11 (Clinton County).
The main rail line with regular freight service is the Delaware and Hudson (a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific) which runs north and south across Clinton, Essex and Washington Counties.
The Battenkill Freight Line provides limited freight service in eastern Washington County.
The former Adirondack Branch of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad runs through Saratoga, Warren and Essex Counties, extending from Saratoga Springs to Tahawus. The Saratoga County section of the line was purchased by Corinth and the corridor from Corinth to North Creek/Johnsburg (Warren) was purchased by Warren County. A scenic tourist train operated until 2018, when the operator entered bankruptcy. Some advocates have called for the rail corridor to be converted to recreational trail, however, no decision has been made by the Federal Surface Transportation Board to abandon the rail line.
There currently is no rail in Hamilton County.
In addition to regular freight service, the Delaware and Hudson tracks are also used by Amtrak for the “Adirondack”, a train that provides regular passenger service between New York and Montreal
Communities along Lake Champlain and the Hudson River were developed as waterfront communities for trade and the shipment of goods to points throughout the northeastern United States and Canada.
Although shipping by barges is now antiquated and seldom used, there is renewed interest in the canal as a vehicle for tourism and pleasure crafting.
Those communities that had the foresight to develop systems in the past have reaped the rewards of increased commercial activities. However, many of the systems installed decades ago are now antiquated, and in need of upgrades and/or replacement.
Included in this category are major and secondary recreation centers where seasonal population fluctuations exist. Public water systems also tend to exist within minor centers where average populations are less than 1,000, but these centers typically lack municipal wastewater disposal.
There is also interest in extending sewer lines into newly emerging growth areas and areas where private water systems and private waste systems are not adequately performing.
Similar to other infrastructure, communications infrastructure exists in the larger communities, but is not as prevalent in the outlying locations.
An overall lack of access to cell and broadband services regionally is certainly one of the infrastructure weaknesses holding back business establishments away from urban centers.
The geography of the region has historically impacted economic development.
The Lake Champlain-Lake George Region encompasses some 6,340 square miles of surface area or approximately 4,057,600 acres.
Elevations in the region range from 96.5 feet at Lake Champlain to 5,344 feet above sea level on Mount Marcy, the highest point in the state.
In the western and central portions of the region, the Adirondack Mountains contain some of the earth’s oldest geological formations. Several of the high peaks approach and exceed 5,000 feet in elevation with 46 peaks topping 4,000 feet.
The Headwaters of the Hudson River are located within the region in Essex County.
The region also contains Lake Champlain, sometimes called the sixth Great Lake, Lake George “The Queen of American Lakes” and Schroon Lake “The Pearl of the Adirondacks.”
Other notable waterways include the Mettawee and Poultney Rivers in Washington County, the Bouquet and Ausable Rivers in Essex County, the Great Chazy River in Clinton County and the East and West Branches of the Sacandaga River in Hamilton County.
The region encompasses over 384 square miles (246,000 acres) of surface water. The majority of this acreage is contained in the 97,000 acres of Lake Champlain and 28,000 acres of Lake George. In addition, there are nearly two dozen lakes that contain over 1,000 acres of surface water within the region.
Climatic conditions are controlled by the topography, latitude, and elevations of the region. Average annual snowfalls, temperature and other weather patterns vary dramatically from county to county within the region.
The region is rich in natural resources and historically the economy focused on the extraction and use of these materials. The industrial history of the region focuses on extraction of raw materials, largely ores and forest products. Timber has dominated the economy of the region for generations and even today, lumber and wood products along with paper and allied products remain an important, integral component in the regions’ economy. Mining and related applications also continue as an important industry in the region.
Important natural resources other than forest products include slate, talc, wollastonite, sand, gravel, hardwood, softwood, garnet, granite, marble, limestone, sandstone, iron ore, anorthosite, titanium, and oil. Agriculture is also a significant industry in the region, and there is a total of 163,805 acres of prime farmland located within the LC-LG Region.