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Adirondack Northway Exit 20 Area Focus Of Study

Route 9 looking north near Exit 20
Lucas Willard
Route 9 looking north near Exit 20

Travelers in our region headed to Lake George and its many tourist attractions often find themselves snarled in traffic, just miles from their destination. Now, the busy exit off the Adirondack Northway is being studied to reduce traffic congestion and increase safety for pedestrians. WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports officials are looking for suggestions.

Queensbury resident Connie Tucker says in the summertime, she’d rather walk to go shopping than take her car on Route 9 near Exit 20. 

“Oh, it’s not that far. It takes me about 10, 15 minutes because I don’t live that far in on Glen Lake Road, but I have to walk up, you know, a quarter-mile, cut through the Municipal Center to get through there,” said Tucker. “But, you know, I’m not 20 years old anymore, either. So it’s a hard walk some days.”

Exit 20 of the Adirondack Northway, part of Interstate 87, exits onto Route 9 between two major economic engines for the region. Six Flags Great Escape and other attractions are located to the south, a number of outlet shops are to the north. The Warren County Municipal Center is sandwiched between.

Ed Bartholomew, President of Warren County EDC, was on hand Thursday evening at an open house and presentation on the future of the Exit 20 area.

“This is a huge sales tax generator for Warren County and the State of New York,” said Bartholomew. “Exit 20 where you get off to go through Lake George – as well as for those people who are going to Vermont, New Hampshire and all the way to Maine – becomes a major focus…as the shoppers and truckers as well. So it’s a very congested area.”

The congestion, in addition to creating headaches for travelers and commuters, creates a public safety risk, according to Warren County Director of Emergency Management and Fire Coordinator Brian LaFluer.

“Firetrucks are big. And they’re not as…they’re wider than everything else and it’s hard to get up through there. And all it takes is one person to be off, not where they’re supposed to be, and we’re stuck,” said LaFluer.

A $100,000 study funded by National Grid, Warren County EDC, and Warren County, is trying to determine what to do with the busy corridor.

Jeff Pangburn, Senior Project Manager with Creighton Manning Engineering, points to a series of posters detailing different options for the area.

“Everything from do nothing, to no alternative, up to a new interchange, which is just shy of the $75 million ballpark,” said Pangburn.

Other options: expanding the roadway from three to five lanes, adding roundabouts, or putting in new roads to bypass the outlets altogether, providing a new connection to Route 149 from Route 9. 

The area being studied includes property beyond the crowded outlets.

“Because there’s a lot of parcels, yet, to the south of the outlet centers that could be developed. So there could be even more growth in this corridor,” said Pangburn. 

From a public safety perspective, LaFluer is leaning toward the option to add additional lanes.

“Which would give you more width in the middle, so that people have a place to go – if there’s a vehicle coming up through there they have an actual…there’s more space for them to get off to the side. Right now there’s three lanes and there’s not enough space for them to go. So I don’t know. We’ll see.”

Cost is another factor, says Bartholomew, with EDC.

“This is probably going to be a combination of some federal money, some state money, and most importantly, there will be a need for local funds from the county to incorporate this because the federal funds just continue to diminish and diminish from the area,” said Bartholomew.

Members of the public are invited to share their thoughts on the Warren County Pathway Corridor Planning Study.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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