PLATTSBURGH — It took four decades, but for many residents of Cumberland Head, the wait was worth it.
"We are just thrilled," Irene Cottrell said Thursday as officials dedicated the new connector road across Cumberland Head.
"This will provide a much safer road and get those big tractor-trailers off the perimeter road."
Cottrell was among a group of people who first pitched the connector-road idea back around 1964.
They argued that the narrow perimeter road was a safety concern for motorists and for residents living on the road.
The battle continued throughout the decades, while traffic on the peninsula increased as business on the Lake Champlain Transportation Co. ferries picked up.
"It was frightening out here," Cottrell said.
"With kids and school buses stopping, it could be dangerous."
The project finally became a reality when the late former State Sen. Ronald B. Stafford secured the bulk of the $7 million needed to construct the two-mile road in 2001.
Construction began earlier this year with a two-year timetable set.
But under the guidance of Cumberland Head resident Jamie Flynn, who was construction manager for Kubricky Construction Corp., the project sped ahead by a full year.
ROAD NOT OPEN YET
The road is set to open to the public in about a week; crews will install guardrails and finish work on the accompanying bicycle path.
Clinton County Legislature Chairman Jimmy Langley (R-Area 7, Peru) said it was important that the legislature made sure the project stayed alive.
"This took courage because anytime government spends money on a new project they open themselves up to criticism," Langley said.
Congressman John McHugh (R-Pierrepont Manor), who secured $1 million in federal funds toward the project, was on hand for Thursday's ceremony.
"To create safer highways and byways is one of the most important things that government can do," he said.
The road was named the Commodore Thomas Macdonough Highway in honor of the Battle of Plattsburgh hero who won a decisive battle against the British on nearby Cumberland Bay in the War of 1812.