The roundabout off of the first exit on Grand Island coming from the south Grand Island Bridge is getting a makeover.
In its current state, the roundabout is “unwelcoming,” Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray said.
“It looks terrible,” he said.
When the work is completed, McMurray would like to place a sign, with help from Grand Island High School, in the middle of the roundabout, welcoming visitors to the Island.
The state Department of Transportation began work on the roundabout this week where the Thruway exit road meets Grand Island Boulevard and Staley Road, McMurray said. Everything will be removed from the center of the roundabout, except for several existing lilac trees.
Easily maintained river rock will be laid down at the center of the roundabout, along with two additional lilac trees. During his campaign for town supervisor, McMurray said he made the roundabout an issue. Once he was elected, residents expected him to act on it.
McMurray wrote letters to the DOT, and was able to work out a meeting with the state agency. Originally wanting the roundabout removed, McMurray was convinced of its necessity in the meeting.
“They convinced me that the design works,” he wrote in a recent letter to residents.
However, McMurray was able to convince officials that the roundabout required some work, which will be done for free by the DOT, he said.
Along with the changes to the actual roundabout, seven white oak trees will be planted on each side of the exit road from the Thruway. McMurray said it was difficult to get the DOT to agree to the white oaks, but he wanted to pay homage to Grand Island’s past.
“We fought really hard for white oaks,” he said. “The island used to be covered in white oaks.”
Once the trees have grown a bit, McMurray said, he’d like to explore having them lighted at night.
“It’ll be pretty,” he said.
The roundabout work is part of a larger plan the town is working on to “clean up” Grand Island Boulevard, McMurray said. The next phases of that plan include reopening a vacant gas station along the boulevard and eventually working with Kelly’s Country Store and hosting a farmers market there, among other ideas.
The work on the roundabout should be done by the end of this week, McMurray said.