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Survey seeks input on Complete Streets initiative in Town of Tonawanda

Should streets in the Town of Tonawanda have more pedestrian-friendly opportunities to encourage walking, biking and handicapped-accessible pathways?

That’s the question officials are putting before residents this summer in a public survey for the town’s Complete Streets initiative.

“I really want to get a good sample from our residents on the public outreach effort because I want to be able to tell the Town Board in September that they either want it, or they don’t,” said James D. Hartz, the town’s director of planning and development. “This is it. We want to hear back from the public, kind of gauge the interest on this issue.”

Complete Streets accommodate all modes of transportation by using sidewalks, landscaping, parking, bike lanes and motor vehicle traffic.

A town committee formed last year has proposed a draft Complete Streets policy and identified some likely candidates for a makeover. Many are the town’s busiest streets, including Sheridan Drive; Kenmore and Englewood avenues; Brighton, Eggert and Military roads; and Parker and Colvin boulevards. Others are smaller residential streets, such as Crosby Avenue in the Village of Kenmroe, that are close to parks, schools and athletic fields.

Buffalo was the first city in the state to adopt a Complete Streets policy in 2008, when city leaders pledged to add features to help bikes and pedestrians whenever they reconstructed a road. Now, more than 100 municipalities have adopted such policies, including one at the state level, Hartz said.

The survey is being launched just as completion nears for the new Tonawanda Rails-to-Trails, which cuts a diagonal line across the heart of the town’s residential core along an old railroad bed. Crews are putting the finishing touches on the 4-mile trail, which Hartz and other officials have called a “game-changer” for improving connectivity in the town.

When it’s officially opened as early as late June, the trail will connect bicyclists and pedestrians to the LaSalle station Metro Rail stop on Main Street in Buffalo for trips to Canalside downtown.

“That is a huge asset to have,” Hartz said. “It’s been in the planning works for 25 years and to see that happen this year is awesome.”

The survey is available on the town’s website, tonawanda.ny.us. There’s also a mapping application that allows respondents to indicate their priorities for the streets that should see improvements.

Results will be posted in September. Hartz said he is hoping for at least 3,000 to 4,000 responses.

“It’s critical – if they want to see accommodation for pedestrian traffic – that their local officials have adopted a Complete Streets ordinance,” he said. “It’s important for handicapped persons, seniors, kids trying to get to school, families with kids. It’s everybody, really.”

email: jpopiolkowski@buffnews.com