Old Military project may restart soon

LAKE PLACID – Essex County hopes to restart work on Old Military Road as early as next week, if temperatures warm up enough for the ground to thaw some.

Tony LaVigne, superintendent of the county’s Department of Public Works, told the Enterprise Monday the $7.4 million project could get back under way Monday.

“It’s coming pretty quick,” he said. “It depends on conditions. Right now, the conditions are running a little behind schedule.”

LaVigne said the ground needs to soften up before work can continue in earnest.

The project began last summer. It includes the installation of a new bridge over the Chubb River as well as the realignment of Riki Hill. Rifenburg Construction Inc. of Troy is the lead contractor on the project, which is being overseen by the county.

LaVigne said the Riki Hill realignment still needs to be completed. The new bridge is partially finished, he added.

“We have to put the deck on the bridge,” LaVigne said. “Then we need to finish grading and paving. We’re shooting for having the road complete by the end of summer.”

When the project restarts, Old Military Road will be shut down between state Route 86 and Mill Pond Drive. Traffic will be detoured through the village, and the county will again set up a temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Wesvalley Road and Saranac Avenue in hopes of easing congestion.

LaVigne said he hopes the road can be reopened by Memorial Day, when the busy summer season starts to ramp up.

So far, the project is on budget, LaVigne said.

Last year, the Lake Placid village Board of Trustees considered asking the state Department of Transportation to make the temporary light at the intersection of Wesvalley Road and Saranac Avenue a permanent one. Mayor Craig Randall and several members of the community supported the idea, but others – including hotel and business owners near the intersection – opposed it. The board never took action on the matter.

“I decided that there wasn’t enough public interest at the time to pursue it,” Randall said Monday.

Randall said reinstalling the temporary light makes sense.

“Once the road is finished and traffic has resumed, we’ll see if the neighborhood and the traffic flows really warrant going after DOT to put a light there,” he said. “It’s really not the village’s call anyway. Obviously, the board could lobby for it if it were deemed desirable. Right at the moment, I don’t think we really have a strong mandate to do anything with it.”

Randall noted that Old Military’s two-month closure last year came during the height of the tourist season. This time, the road closure could begin when many families are out of town for spring break. April and May are generally quieter months in Lake Placid, although tourism officials acknowledge that the community’s offseason is growing shorter.

“We’ll see it in a little different setting than what we did last year,” Randall said. “The only real problem there is the traffic that tries to come off from Wesvalley Road. If there were a way of creating a four-way stop, I would prefer that myself. It gives everybody an opportunity to rotate. I don’t know that that’s even feasible.”

The mayor said village officials will monitor the situation in the months ahead.