Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 7, 2012

Parkway changes coming?

Niagara Gazette —

State officials hope to make the south end of the Robert Moses Parkway feel more like what it is - a parkway.

State and city officials on Friday unveiled plans to reconfigure the Robert Moses Parkway south in an effort to better promote the natural beauty of the riverside green space along the stretch of the roadway that runs to Niagara Falls State Park.

The plans deal with the stretch of the parkway that runs from the John B. Daly Boulevard exit to the exit near the Rainbow Bridge. Recommended changes include the development of an at-grade traffic circle where the elevated exchange near the Daly Boulevard exit now sits, pull off parking areas to replace roadside spots along the stretch leading to the state park and a single, two-lane road along the entire section. In addition, officials are proposing the installation of new pedestrian walkways to provide improved pedestrian access to the park.

The traffic circle and single road, along with plans to decrease the speed limit, will make that section of the park more attractive to pedestrians, Jeffrey W. Lebsack, the project manager from Hatch Mott MacDonald engineers and environmental consultants, said.

"One of the major things that we're trying to do is make the connections between the park and the city and allow lots of recreational and non-vehicular activities within the park," Lebsack said.

Residents and tourists will be more likely to use the southern section of the park if they feel safe crossing the road, Lesback said.

"We're going to create a friendly river way," Lesback said. "Curved, it's going to be low speed. It's not going to look like an extension of the expressway."

Officials said the plan follows the principles of Fredrick Law Olmsted - the man who designed Niagara Falls State Park, Central Park in New York City and Buffalo's parks system - with winding paths for the pedestrians and cyclists that officials are hoping to attract.

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