A 78-foot cut for the new highway, 1920s. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, June 15, 2002 Undated clipping
The Saranac & Tupper Lake Highway was constructed about 1873 under the direction of Van Buren Miller, who paid much of the construction costs when the state failed to fund the project. 1 The road was blacktopped in 1920, 2 and a new, concrete-surfaced highway was completed in 1938. 3 It was designated as New York Route 3 in about 1930; previously it was designated as New York State Route 10.
The George LaPan Memorial Highway was built in 1958 to avoid the steep hill on Lake Street that had previously been the only route out of the village to the southwest. It connects River Street to the Saranac Lake-Tupper Lake Highway. It was named for the former president of the Adirondack National Bank, George LaPan, who died in an automobile accident two years earlier.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, headline, May 28, 1957 View from the Lake Street hill. The LaPan Highway bridge was built approximately where the footbridge crosses the Saranac River, at left in this circa 1910 photograph. The Riverside Inn is at right. Adirondack Daily Enterprise Main Street, 1957. The rightmost three buildings were torn down, as the LaPan highway passes directly through the land they occupied. The next building is the Little Italy. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 28, 2002 Adirondack Daily Enterprise, May 28, 1957
New S.L. Entrance on Route 3 Now Official
Bids To Be Advertised Next Week And Opened In Albany On June 27
A thirty-year effort to achieve a new entrance into Saranac Lake from Route 3 (the State Road to Tupper Lake) will reach a successful conclusion this week when the New York State Department of Public Works will advertise for bids on the project which is estimated at a cost of $830,000.
This was learned this morning when The Enterprise queried the Department offices in Albany. The bids will be opened on June 27 and construction will start shortly thereafter.
No estimate was given as to the target date for completing the project.
The plan calls for a new section of 1.08 miles of Route 3 "in and near" Saranac Lake. It will start at the corner of Lake Street at the State Road where the stop sign is now located. It will then run northeast and east on a new location describing an arc around the high school, to Main Street at the corner of River Street.
The project will include a new three-span, four-lane bridge 186 feet long over the Saranac River. The bridge is described as "pre-stressed concrete beam."
There will also be a prestressed concrete pedestrian bridge over the new highway near Leona Street. This bridge will be "five feet wide and 120 feet long.
To Remove Buildings
This includes the building in which Mrs. Marian Brogan has her antique shop, the offices of Distin and Wareham, architects, and two floors of apartments over the Novelty Shop. The location of the antique shop is owned by Mr. Miller, for many years Saranac Lake's mayor, and the Novelty Shop property is owned by Alfred W. Currier.
The Currier Press, which recently bought out the Commercial Press on Broadway, will build a new building behind the present location of Commercial Press. Distin and Wareham will move to the offices at 64 Main Street now occupied by Leonard Houghton, C.P.A., who is moving upstairs in the same building. That will bring all the Saranac Lake architects together, since William Scopes occupies part of the Main Street office to which Distin and Wareham will move.
Few present Saranac Lakers can remember the details of how and-when the project got started some 30 years ago, but most citizens recall the various episodes along the way.
At one time the new entrance seemed assured but at that time the Board of Education made certain objections and the project was temporarily dropped. At the public hearing held on the road last November 28 in the Town Hall by Robert W. Sweet, district engineer of the Public Works Department, Dr. Warriner Woodruff, president of the Board of Education, denied that the Board had ever been against the new road as such, but merely questioned certain aspects of the plan then put forward and which have been changed to take care of the objections.
As long as there seemed to be differences of opinion in the village, the Department was reluctant to go ahead with the project. However, in October 1954, me planning board of the Town of Harrietstown and the Village of Saranac Lake traveled to Watertown to assure Mr. Sweet that the community was united in favoring the project. There had been some question of whether a new entrance should come along Ampersand Avenue and across Broadway at Bloomingdale Avenue.
By and large support for the new entrance, originally inspired by the number of accidents caused by the abrupt stop at the end of a through highway, was completely bi-partisan.
However, the matter almost became a political issue when, on October 5, 1954, just before the gubernatorial elections of that year, State Sen. Robert C. Mc-Ewen of Ogdensburg announced to a luncheon meeting of Franklin County Republicans at the Elks Club here that the funds for the project had been set aside and that construction- would "definitely begin sometime next year."
The next day Joseph Drutz, then Franklin County Democratic chairman, issued a statement highly critical of the fact that the announcement had been made at a political meeting.
An additional element of dispute came early this year when Mr. Sweet wrote former Mayor Alton B. Anderson that his Department's Division of Construction had "raised the objection that it is illegal for this Department to build new sidewalks in an incorporated village." This would have meant a charge of over $7,000 to the village. This point of view was vigorously disputed by Thomas B. Cantwell. A week later, the Public Works Department agreed to put sidewalks on the bridge but asked the Village to put sidewalks along the new road from Dorsey Street to South Hope.
The new highway will have a maximum grade of 5 per cent as compared with about 14 per cent on the present hill. #
From 1938 or 1939 until 1963, Martha Reben and Fred and Kate Rice lived in a cottage on Route 3 at the edge of town [last house on the right going toward Tupper Lake] which Martha's father bought. After Martha's death, her brother evicted Fred from the cottage.
from Betsy Tisdale letter, April 1, 2003