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County legislator says best future for Parkway is improved maintenance as current 4-lane highway

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 January 2018 at 4:21 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: The Lake Ontario State Parkway in Orleans County has suffered from deteriorating road conditions in recent years, which has deterred some motorists from using the road. A study is looking at the future of the Parkway.

An Orleans County legislator believes keeping the Lake Ontario State Parkway in its current form as a four-lane divided highway offers the best benefit for the Orleans County and likely makes the most sense for the state financially.

Ken DeRoller, a county legislator and member of the board of directors for the Orleans Economic Development Agency, is part of a committee looking at the future of the Parkway in Orleans County.

The Genesee Transportation Council in Rochester and the county are studying the future of the Parkway, looking at possible alternatives for the westernmost 12.7 miles of the Parkway that runs along the lake through Kendall and part of Carlton.

One idea was to close the northern side, currently the western lanes, and have the Parkway be a regular two-lane state road on the south side. That could free up the northern side for possible housing development. Except, DeRoller said, there wouldn’t be enough room to accommodate new development because the road is too close to the lake.

DeRoller said the idea of lakefront housing by the northern lanes of the parkway “is a fallacy.”

“There is not enough room to build on the north side,” DeRoller told the EDA board on Friday.

The Transportation Council also is considering closing off either the north or south sides to traffic and designating one side for cyclists and snowmobiles. But DeRoller said snow doesn’t seem to “stick” too well on the Parkway surface.

And the state would need to modify the interchanges if traffic was allowed on only one side. The cost of redoing the interchanges might negate any maintenance savings from closing off one side to traffic, DeRoller said.

The committee looking at the Parkway also is considering a reduced speed of 40 miles per hour for the Parkway, or perhaps an elevated speed limit to make the road faster for motorists.

DeRoller told the EDA board he favors more maintenance and paving in the current Parkway setup. He thinks the roadway should be better marketed as a connector to popular state parks at Lakeside Beach in Carlton and Hamlin Beach. Those two state parks together draw 443,000 visitors annually, DeRoller said. They each have about 250 camp sites.

The state Department of Transportation last year resurfaced the Parkway from Route 19 in Hamlin to Payne Beach Road in Parma. This year the resurfacing will continue west from Route 19 in Hamlin to Route 237 in Kendall in 2018. Altogether, the DOT is spending about $14 million on the paving projects.

DeRoller sees the road – when it’s in good shape – as an asset for the county, leading to the state park in Carlton, sites at Point Breeze, and a revamped marina and other businesses in Kendall.

“It’s very important to our southshore and tourism,” DeRoller said about the Parkway.

To complete a survey about the future of the Parkway, click here.

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