Those using a main route from the Northway to the High Peaks and Lake Placid should be prepared for delays starting next week and continuing at times throughout the summer.
Beginning Monday, slope repairs and drainage work planned by the state Department of Transportation will close lanes on scenic Route 73 near the upper end of the Cascade Lakes, DOT officials said.
As now scheduled, the work requiring alternating one-way traffic will be taking place when the High Peaks region sees some of its highest levels of tourist traffic — but it was supposed to be done earlier.
Construction was originally scheduled for early May to avoid having major traffic impacts but was postponed after the discovery of a buried fiber-optic cable in an unexpected location, state officials said. The project has been redesigned to avoid the cable, but that led to the delay, they said.
The work is being done by Luck Brothers Inc. of Plattsburgh under a $635,635 contract with the state,
Local officials said the work badly needs to be done, and they don’t think there will be too much of an impact on people traveling between Northway Exit 30 and Lake Placid.
“The road is definitely in terrible shape, and it needs to be done,” said Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas, chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors. “Sure, people will be frustrated. … But do I think it will make people go somewhere else? I don’t.”
Starting Monday, Route 73 from Lower Cascade Lake to just east of the Olympic bobsled complex entrance will be reduced to one travel lane, with temporary traffic signals used to control alternating one-way traffic.
The alternating lane closure pattern is expected to last around-the-clock until Monday, June 24.
Two parking areas frequented by hikers — at Stagecoach Rock and the overflow lot for Cascade Mountain and Pitchoff Mountain — will be closed during construction. The main Cascade Mountain and Pitchoff Mountain parking area will remain open.
Boulder removal and rock scaling where mountain walls tower over the highway will occur throughout the remainder of the summer, DOT officials said. That could result in occasional full closure of Route 73 for up to 30 minutes at a time, officials said.
The bulk of the work will be done before the busiest tourism season, said Kim Reilly, spokeswoman for the Lake Placid Visitors Bureau.
“First of all, the work needs to be done,” she said. “It’s an important route, and it needs to be safe.”
The tourism season doesn’t reach its peak until schools let out, she said, and the bulk of the work will be done by then.
The pending project isn’t the first time people who use Route 73 have faced inconvenience.
Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011 washed out stretches of the highway between Keene Valley and the Cascade Lakes. With a major push from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, crews were able to get the highway open again in less than two weeks, though some repair work continued for months afterward.