Traffic management needs improvement in Saranac Lake
To the editor:
Winter Carnival parade day I spent 20 minutes trying to get from the public parking lot behind the Blue Line to the area by the college. To avoid the mess at the Ice Palace, I climbed over French Hill to cross at the Ampersand light, go up Park, down Catherine, and then along Pine without contributing to the mess at the town hall intersection. Many cars were trying to do the same, but they arrived on Ampersand only to find the intersection closed. We were forced to retrace our steps back to LaPan, to be funneled through the most heavily congested spot in the village on parade morning. Really? At the very least, the Ampersand intersection needs to be opened as an alternative route around the mess, even if that means altering staging areas and the parade route.
There were police everywhere, but none directing traffic, and Lord knows a bit of direction was needed by the Ice Palace light. Pedestrians were convinced they had the right of way despite lights, signals, signs or common sense. The Carnival may be only once per year, but traffic management suffers from the same syndrome year round. For example, in summer, the busiest intersection in town is turned into a three-ring circus for farmers market activities. Try coming out of Kiwassa to get anywhere.
Unnecessary traffic snarls will only get worse if the hotel project on the Lake Flower corner goes through. The village went out of its way by such shenanigans as counting land underwater as available parking space to allow a hotel on a congested, poorly designed and poorly regulated intersection. I spent a summer risking accidents daily to enter Lake Flower Avenue from Duprey or Edward. It’s more than just annoying; it’s dangerous. A large hotel will make it worse.
I know the tax base suffers without a viable business community, and poor tourist and event sales can break a business here, reducing employment and the tax base. But the primary attraction of Saranac Lake has ever been its booming shopping district. Visitors come here precisely because it isn’t Lake Placid or Lake George. They come for the surrounding natural attractions. It’s time the residents who plod through the long winters as well as the wonderful summers, who maintain their homes daily and not just on event days, and who pay the exorbitant taxes got some consideration from the village as well.
Saranac Lake is poorly laid out and ill equipped to handle large crowds. If efforts to promote crowds or big events continue, then the village needs to better handle the parking and traffic problems without just dumping them on the residents’ backs.