State should better maintain Parkway and not open it to development

Posted 7 October 2015 at 12:00 am


I think Assemblyman Steve Hawley’s September 3 Orleans Hub article gets it partially right. (Click here to see “Hawley pushes for DOT action on deteriorating Parkway.”)

The state needs to perform more extensive work along the Lake Ontario State Parkway. Of the 25 miles of divided-lane highway, there are about 7 miles (almost all Westbound) that could benefit. But cutbacks in staffing and budgets have made work more challenging to perform.

But part of his letter goes “off the roadway” when he asks for a study on if the Parkway should have the north (Westbound lanes) closed and revert to two-way traffic along the Eastbound lanes for part of the year.

What could possibly be the reason to close down the only divided-lane highway in Orleans County? Assemblyman Hawley mentions opening up the lakefront land for home building. Really?

Travel along the lakefront drives and roads in Orleans County and there are multiple houses for sale. There are only 2.6 miles of Parkway that have no houses between or are within 500 feet of the lake.

Closing 12.5 miles of Westbound lanes for houses to be built along 2.6 miles of lakeside property sends exactly the wrong message – mainly that greater economic benefit is realized by home building rather than a divided highway to bring traffic into the county.

How about this idea for our elected officials? Ask/write/pester/twirl plates in the air to get DOT Commissioner Matthew Driscoll to come out to the Parkway and ride along the Westbound stretches of road between Morton and Kendall, and from Point Breeze to Lakeside Beach State Park – those are the sections most in need of extensive work.

Former DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald was supposed to tour the Parkway in the Summer of 2014 but did not come out on her scheduled day. The current DOT Commissioner needs to ride along the Parkway to see what road conditions are like first-hand.

With major economic development announced at the WNY STAMP project, growing agricultural businesses in Medina, and new businesses opening at Point Breeze, we need to invest in infrastructure that is here now and can carry vehicles, people and revenue into this area and points west. We already have Rts. 18, 104 and 31 as East-West roadways. Adding a fourth East-West two-lane roadway is not the answer.

We must be persistent about securing funding for more extensive work along the Parkway so that it can bring traffic into this area in a safe and timely manner. Or we can give up on the Parkway – and it’s ability to bring traffic into Orleans County – and instead watch the traffic stream out of this area. My expectation is that our state elected officials will re-double their efforts to bring more Parkway dollars into Orleans County.

Tom Klotzbach