LAKE PLACID — Reconstruction of the main retail zone in one of the most popular downtowns in the Adirondacks will halt Wednesday for two months.
The Main Street Upgrade in Lake Placid entails rebuilding streets, sidewalks, sewer lines and water mains as well as creating a few new parking spaces and improving some green spaces.
The traffic pattern changes and roadwork have been disruptive for some visitors and merchants but they hold the promise of a better downtown landscape when the work is complete.
Construction is set to be suspended after Wednesday, except for some relatively minor work on a short stretch of Saranac Avenue, some parking lots and a pocket park.
Temporary blacktop will be laid and striped, two-way traffic will resume on Main Street, and all but one of the temporary traffic lights will be turned off.
The $10 million project is designed to improve traffic flow, upgrade infrastructure and reduce environmental impact. It originally was scheduled to continue through autumn 2023 but the work being done this summer could move the completion date forward to autumn 2022, Community Development Director Haley Breen said Monday.
Merchants along the Main Street work zone hope to reap significant benefits from the project because they’re feeling the impact now.
The Great Adirondack Brewing Company has lost revenue.
“During the week, when they’re working right in front of our door, people can’t even walk in,” general manager Edward Kane said.
Navigating the construction zone and finding parking were very difficult when work started in April, he said, and the restaurant has had to shut down a couple of times when a ruptured main cut off their water service.
“Some days, when a truck drives past, it’s like a dust storm,” Kane said. “We have to clean our windows literally every day.”
But he’s optimistic. Asked if he thinks Main Street and its infrastructure will be better when the work is done than it was before the work began, he had one word: “Definitely.”
Jenna Jenks, co-owner of Ruthie’s Run, said she can’t gauge the effect the work has had on sales.
“We just closed on purchasing on Ruthie’s Run, so it’s hard to say whether it’s impacted us because we don’t have anything to compare it to,” she said. “I will say that there’s some slower [business] days, like when they work on the sidewalks. It’s also very noisy.”
Jenks said, though, that the result should be worth the wait, particularly when the uneven sidewalks are fixed.
“I’m really excited that they’re planning to put in new sidewalks,” she said. “So, yeah, we’re hopeful.”
Linda Moore said her two clothing stores on Main Street — Bear Essentials and Quantum Apparel — both have been affected by the work, Quantum more so because of its position in the work zone.
“However we do understand that the construction has to take place and we’re looking forward to seeing all the improvements,” she said.
It has been an unusual time, Moore said: business in summer 2020 was strong because of all the people who were vacationing in the Adirondacks or spending time in seasonal homes; winter 2020-2021 was slow because fewer people were traveling; spring 2021 was slow on days when people couldn’t walk in because of the road work; summer 2021 should be strong because the road work is ending and special summer events are returning, but she’s having trouble finding enough employees to expand her hours.
This spring, new water mains were installed on Main Street and Saranac Avenue, a new sewer main was installed on Saranac Avenue, and most structures were connected to them; drainage infrastructure on Parkside Drive was completed; a bioretention basin to filter runoff before it enters Mirror Lake was completed in One Main Park; and curbing was installed in some areas.
Work will continue this summer on Saranac Avenue, which was discovered to be in poorer shape than anticipated, requiring extra work that pushed the timeline back; vehicle and pedestrian traffic is expected to continue unimpeded during that work.
A free shuttle bus will run from the Train Station parking lot starting Thursday.
Work will resume on a date to be determined after Labor Day and continue as long as autumn weather permits. It will resume after the spring thaw of 2022 and potentially be completed in late 2022.
Peter Fazio of Saratoga Olive Oil said the timing will work out well.
The Lake Placid branch of the store has lost business due to the roadwork but the pause comes at a critical time — it clears Main Street for July and August. “That’s our money-making season,” Fazio said.
He called the project necessary.
If it’s completed in time, a national and international audience will see a new Lake Placid during the 2023 Winter World University Games.
“The town’s in definite need of a facelift,” Fazio said.