Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — What was designed as a simple project to improve safety on the lower section of the Robert Moses Parkway has ended up an object of curiosity for countless motorists.
For the record, they’re not just moving dirt around. No one has a firm date on when the project will be completed. And in response to one wise-cracking caller seeking information — it’s not part of the unending search for Jimmy Hoffa.
The work has been under way for several months on the median between the north- and south-bound lanes of the parkway, just north of the Route 104 overpass in the village.
“We issued a permit for a contractor who has been doing a job at Niagara University to dispose of the fill from a Witmer Road site to the area (the median) along the parkway,” said Susan Surdej, public information officer for the state Department of Transportation. The ongoing project that started last summer has drawn the curiosity of countless motorists passing by the site daily,
“I can’t believe what I’ve been seeing since last fall, said a Ransomville resident who works in downtown Niagara Falls. “I got the impression they were just moving the dirt from one end of that section to another and then back,” he quipped
It’s a serious matter, however, as DOT officials explain. Over the years, a kind of deep ravine has formed along that stretch of the median, creating a hazard for any vehicles that might swerve and veer off the road for whatever reason. In addition, the rusty and long-neglected guard rails needs to be replaced.
The Ed Bauer Construction Co., doing work in support of the New York Power Authority/Niagara University shared campus initiative has been hauling the fill material from the DOT site off Witmer Road for the parkway work. NYPA is not involved with that part of the project, according to Michael Saltzman, public relations director at NYPA.
A minor brouhaha apparently erupted when the regional state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation, which has sole ownership of the parkway section between Lewiston and the Lake Road in Porter, claimed it had not received any formal notice of the median project. Ron Peters, deputy general manager for the park commission, said the plan for using the fill on the parkway median had been worked out more than a year ago with a former parks commission engineer who later assumed a new post in the Albany area. “We sorted it all out and confirmed it was a valid project,” Peters said. The state Department of Environmental Conservation also approved the importing of the fill, part of the process to check for any possible transportation of invasive species.