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Some Parkway improvements coming in 2017-18, but no plans for west of Kendall

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2016 at 10:29 am
Photos by Tom Rivers: Kevin Bush, regional director for the state Department of Transportation, addresses more than 100 people at a meeting Monday evening on future paving plans for the Lake Ontario State Parkway. The meeting with State Sen. Robert Ortt and Bush was organized by the Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association. They met in the home of Gene Haines, which is located near the Parkway by Lake Ontario.

Photos by Tom Rivers: Kevin Bush, regional director for the state Department of Transportation, addresses more than 100 people at a meeting Monday evening on future paving plans for the Lake Ontario State Parkway. The meeting with State Sen. Robert Ortt and Bush was organized by the Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association. They met in the home of Gene Haines, which is located near the Parkway by Lake Ontario.

CARLTON – Some improvements are coming to the Lake Ontario State Parkway, a recreational route from Carlton to Rochester.

The Parkway is in need to maintenance, making for a bumpy ride, especially in the Hamlin area, local officials said during a meeting Monday about the future of Parkway paving.

The state has money set aside to improve the Parkway in 2017-18. Most of the $14 million is for upgrading the Parkway in Monroe County.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Kevin Bush, the regional director for the DOT. “This should cover the worst section.”

The Parkway paving includes $8.97 million to pave the parkway from Route 19 east to Payne Beach in 2017, and then $5.2 million to pave the Parkway from Route 19 in Hamlin to Route 237 in Kendall in 2018.

The Department of Transportation’s 5-year plan, which runs until 2020, doesn’t include paving for the Parkway west of 237 in Kendall, Bush told about 100 people on Monday evening during a meeting about the Parkway.

The Oak Orchard Neighborhood Association, which has been pressing for Parkway improvements for several years, organized the meeting with Bush and State Sen. Robert Ortt.

Provided photo by Landmark Society of WNY – Credit Richard Margolis: The Lake Ontario State Parkway runs near the lakeshore in Orleans and Monroe counties and has been in need of paving and repair in recent years.

Provided photo by Landmark Society of WNY – Credit Richard Margolis: The Lake Ontario State Parkway runs near the lakeshore in Orleans and Monroe counties and has been in need of paving and repair in recent years.

The big crowd at the home of Gene Haines impressed Ortt. He said the turnout shows the Parkway is an important issue for local residents.

“When you’re talking about tourism and bringing people to our community, no one wants to travel on a road when your car will bottom out,” Ortt said.

State Sen. Robert Ortt, right, addresses a crowd that includes State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, second from left.

State Sen. Robert Ortt, right, addresses a crowd that includes State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, second from left.

There has been shrinking dollars for paving and infrastructure projects in recent years, and Ortt said that has prompted the DOT to focus the funds on higher-use bridges and roads. That has left the Parkway with little to no maintenance funds in recent years.

The paving the next two years brings overdue investment in the Parkway, Ortt said. He is hopeful the federal government under new President Donald Trump will direct more money for infrastructure, with some of those funds addressing the Parkway west of Kendall.

“It’s your money,” Ortt said. “We’re trying to bring some of it back to improve in an important road in your community.”

The DOT also needs some leeway in prioritizing projects by use. The Parkway is low traffic, and sees less vehicles as it falls into more disrepair. Orit said it is a “downward spiral” because worsening roads get even less traffic, making them less likely to get funds for repaving.

Orleans County and the Genesee Transportation Council expect to soon start a study on the long-term future of the Parkway.

The study will look at several alternatives for the Parkway’s future, including if the west- or eastbound lanes were closed to traffic, the closed lanes could perhaps be opened as a recreational route for walkers, cyclists or snowmobilers.

Wayne Goodman, executive director of the Landmark Society of Western New York, noted how the Landmark Society recently named the Parkway to its annual “Five to Revive,” a list of sites in need of investment.

Wayne Goodman, executive director of the Landmark Society of Western New York, noted how the Landmark Society recently named the Parkway to its annual “Five to Revive,” a list of sites in need of investment.

The remaining west- or eastbound lanes would stay open to traffic with steady maintenance from the state, as a possible alternative.

The study will take an inventory of the transportation assets on the Parkway and forecast the remaining useful life of the bridges, pavement, etc., and an anticipated maintenance schedule.

The Landmark Society of Western New York also recently listed the Parkway on its list of “Five to Revive.” Wayne Goodman, executive director for the Landmark Society, said the annual list of Five to Revive tends to draw interest and often investment in neglected assets in the region.

Goodman said on Monday he favors the study to assess the assets on the Parkway and some alternatives for its future use.

“There’s a lot of unanswered questions about the Parkway and a scarcity of resources,” Goodman said.

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