Late in the morning of Tuesday, July 21, a Round Lake Fire Department truck became the first vehicle to traverse the Round Lake Bypass, marking the official completion of a nearly two-year construction process.
The 1.6-mile stretch of road will allow thousands of motorists to circumvent the Village of Round Lake, population 625, meaning travelers and residents alike can avoid traffic jams that have become all too familiar in recent years.
Round Lake Mayor Dixie Lee Sacks said that a bypass has been a goal for the village since she came into office in 1990.
We had a bypass for years in our master plan, she said. "We have over 5,000 cars going through [the village] a daycertainly with GlobalFoundries it's going to increase a considerable amount."
With the bypass complete, the village will take over George and Curry roads, which run through the village and link the Northway to Route 9. If it is found traffic is still using that route as a thoroughfare, the village will introduce traffic calming measures such as stop signs, said Sacks.
The spotlight was shone on the need for the bypass after microchip manufacturer AMD began eyeing the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta as a site for a $4.2 billion factory. With spinoff company GlobalFoundries breaking ground on the project on Friday, July 24, activity in the area is set to increase.
GlobalFoundries Vice President and General Manager Norm Armour called the bypass a "very important driveway to our fab."
"I think it's going to allow the kind of access we need for our employees as we ramp up Fab 2," he said.
The chip fab is expected to employ 1,400 permanent workers, create up to 2,000 construction-related jobs and stimulate growth of businesses around the area.
Construction on the bypass started in October of 2007, and it cost $22.4 million. The two-lane road connects Route 9 to Curry Road near Northway Exit 11, with new roundabouts at either end. A 630-foot bridge spans Ballston Creek, and the Department of Transportation planted 2,800 trees and shrubs along the route.
DOT officials praised the project as having minimal impact on the surrounding land.
"This project shows the government's commitment to build in an environmentally sustainable manner," said DOT Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee.
A global positioning system was used to keep earthmovers on track and minimize unnecessary disturbance, continued Gee.
Nearby recreational trails were also kept intact, including the Zim Smith Trail, for which a pedestrian walkway was constructed to carry the trail over the bypass. Trails were closed during construction, but are open again.