Niagara Gazette — One way or another, significant changes are in the works for the northern section of the Robert Moses Parkway.
Officials from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on Wednesday unveiled their short list of alternatives for the section of the roadway running along the upper Niagara Gorge.
Their latest list consists of three alternatives, whittled down from the six originally considered as part of the initial phase of the formal parkway review process which started in 2010.
The overall Niagara Gorge Corridor Project envisions two potential phases, a first that would focus on the section of the parkway within city limits and a second, longer-term phase that would take into consideration the stretch beyond the city limits to Lewiston.
All three remaining alternatives have one thing in common: They all call for removal of the four-lane highway from downtown Niagara Falls to Findlay Drive in the city’s North End.
Total removal all the way to Lewiston remains a possibility, although the full scope of the final project will not determined until the end of a public comment period which runs through March 20. State parks began the process of soliciting comments during an open house Wednesday at Conference Center Niagara Falls.
“Today’s report is the culmination of what was proposed last year,” said Mark Thomas, Western District Director for State Parks. “We took community input and it is now narrowed down to three alternatives and two separate phases for moving forward.”
All remaining alternatives call for the redesign of Whirlpool Street into a “park-like road” to offer a lower-speed parkway replacement between Main and Findlay. The proposals would add new curbside overlooks, stairs and ramps to the lower level of the former parkway, a new multimodal trail system as well as restoration of native landscaping and reclamation of pavement areas. Removal of the Whirlpool Overpass and the expansion of the Gorge Discovery Center and Aquarium of Niagara footprint are included in all three packages as well.