Construction at the new Canon headquarters in Melville.

Construction at the new Canon headquarters in Melville. Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

That big hole motorists see from the Long Island Expressway as they pass Exit 49 in Melville marks the beginning of an end for a project for Canon U.S.A., the giant imaging company in Lake Success.

Once that hole is filled, it will be the foundation of Canon U.S.A.'s North American headquarters, marking the end of a 25-year odyssey in the company's search for a such a site.

In the past few weeks, construction crews have begun to pour the foundation for a five-story structure that will be the workplace for some 2,000 Canon employees. Canon will also be building two parking garages. The facility is slated to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Right now, motorists on Old Walt Whitman Road, right next to the construction, must inch by as workers continue a road-widening project. So far, Canon says, the project has employed about 50 construction workers. That number, the company said, is expected to grow to more than 1,000 as work continues.

More headaches for drivers are likely. But the state and federal governments have paid for the road-widening, which is supposed to make it easier for motorists once the building is completed.

The Canon building will have many environmentally friendly features, including natural lighting, energy-efficient equipment and materials and a landscape design that will allow for the preservation of as much open space as possible.

Canon has not disclosed the cost of the project.