"There is some money out there supposedly for an interchange, but I'm not sure it's there anymore," Ritz said. "Creble Road and Clapper Road is probably the best alignment."
The group is working with local leaders and the state's Thruway Authority on two possible options: an E-Z Pass-only interchange at the Clapper Road bridge or a new full toll booth interchange about 1,500 feet north of the bridge.
Ritz said the E-Z Pass interchange would cost an estimated $21.1 million, while the full tollbooth interchange would cost an additional $16 million, coming in at $37.1 million.
"Building the interchange will hopefully take a lot of traffic off of 9W," said Ritz.
Levielle said Bethlehem has been talking to state and federal officials, and that the E-Z Pass option would be the first of its kind on the state's Thruway system.
"The Thruway Authority is in talks about this and so is the Federal Highway System," Levielle said, adding the E-Z Pass option is "an idea they are very interested in."
The areas surrounding any possible new roadway could be considered for re-zoning, and the new connects would help reduce the cost of doing business in Bethlehem.
"This really is an underachieving asset there's a tremendous upside here," he said of having rail, road and water connections coming together. "Very few people are disturbed by what goes on down there."
Levielle said the interchange is "a sensible approach to the future."
However, a large proposed Clapper Road development could be potentially be affected by a new interchange as well as some residents living in the area.
Director of Economic Development and Planning Michael Morelli said mostly low-impact businesses such as warehouse and shipping would take place in the industrially zoned area.
He stressed that any new roads built to detour truck traffic to the Thruway would not be a giant highway or byway like the Delmar Bypass. Morelli said the road would be a simple boulevard like Fisher Boulevard, but would cater to trucks instead of regular commuter traffic. There would be two, 12-foot lanes with a small shoulder and bike path on one side.
Board member John Smolinsky disagreed with Morelli's Fisher Boulevard analogy and said a road built for trucks is vastly different than a residential road.
As for local residents, many see any option for an interchange as
controversial and could have a possible negative effect on their homes. In August, a petition to "say no" to the bypass with 440 names was given to Town Supervisor Jack Cunningham by several residents including: Anthony DeLuca; Stephen Downs; Lisa Evans; Eugene Hoffert; Appleton Mason III; Dawn Pratt; William Weisheit; Harry Wilbur; and Stephen Wiley.