Residents and visitors are dealing with a major detour through the village of Lake Placid during the busiest month of the tourist season, and highway crews have taken steps to try to ease the congestion of traffic, particularly on Saranac Avenue.
With part of the Old Military Road shut down for repaving until October, a detour through the village caused traffic headaches on the first day of the closure, Wednesday, Aug. 15.
“These roads all around here — whether it be 86 on either end, Old Military Road — they were all in need of repair,” said village of Lake Placid Department of Public Works Superintendent Brad Hathaway. “With the amount of traffic we have nowadays, it’s a disruption for everybody, but it’s something that has to be done. They can’t just ignore the roadwork ... I know people hate waiting, but it’s just part of doing this kind of work.”
The detour takes drivers along Mill Pond Drive — starting at State Route 73 at the bottom of Mill Hill at the location of the former Downhill Grill — and Wesvalley Road all the way to Saranac Avenue — at the corner near McDonald’s.
On the first day of the detour, traffic was backed up on Saranac Avenue during the afternoon drive time. To help move traffic along, the Essex County Sheriff’s Department sent deputies to help direct traffic at the McDonald’s corner, and the New York State Police sent troopers to help direct traffic at the Hannaford’s light.
“We knew it was going to be a problem; it’s getting busier and busier every year,” said Hathaway. “What would make it a lot easier on a lot of people is if they stayed right on (routes) 73 and 86 instead of trying to cut through the village. It would actually be quicker.”
The reason for the detour is construction on Old Military Road, formally known as Essex County Route 35. A portion of the road is closed until Oct. 1, according to Essex County Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne. The road closure occurs from State Route 86 to Mill Pond Road at the Lake Placid firehouse. The Old Military Road section between the firehouse and Route 73 at the North Elba Showgrounds will remain open; however, construction will continue and delays are expected. Rifenberg Construction is resurfacing the road and replacing the bridge over the Chubb River.
To help ease traffic congestion on Saranac Avenue, Essex County workers put up a temporary traffic light at the corner of Saranac Avenue and Wesvalley Road, near McDonald’s. And the state Department of Transportation has changed the timing of the Saranac Avenue traffic light at Hannaford’s, according to Hathaway.
“This whole detour will evolve as this job goes on,” Hathaway said. “If they find out the red light (at Wesvalley Road) doesn’t work, they’ll try to figure something else out.”
All the big trucks are being sent along the state highways (Main Street) in downtown Lake Placid.