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Plan for Lewiston bike path makes headway

LEWISTON – After nearly seven years, the Lewiston bike path may finally be on its way to completion.

The Town Board on Monday discussed a $1.8 million plan to construct a 2.2-mile trailway/bike path that would connect Lewiston to Niagara Falls.

Once the trail is completed, it would connect all of Niagara County, from Lake Ontario in Wilson to Gratwick-Riverside Park in North Tonawanda.

Bernie Rotella, grant writer for the town, said two grants – one federal and the other from the Niagara River Greenway Commission – will pay for the project. The groundbreaking could happen by next summer, he said.

The plan to connect the path from Center Street to the Robert Moses Parkway and on to the Falls has hit roadblocks since it was pitched in 2008. But it should move forward with the grant money and approvals of state agencies.

Project manager Jeff Lebsack of the Hatch Mott MacDonald design and engineering firm said the Niagara Gorge Trail Project would be built on the west side of the road. It requires the cooperation of three state agencies with jurisdiction over the corridor – New York State Parks, the New York Power Authority and the state Department of Transportation.

“It will truly be a world-class pathway, because you will have great views of the Niagara Gorge, the Niagara River, the Village of Lewiston, the Brock’s Monument in Canada. It just seems like this is the place to put it,” Lebsack said.

Lebsack said State Parks would extend the multi-use trail along the closed roadway from Devil’s Hole to the Power Authority dam. The Power Authority has agreed to maintain access across the dam. On the other side of the dam, the DOT would design and construct the pathway from the dam to the Village of Lewiston. He said the trail would run adjacent to the southbound lane of traffic and guide rail. Overlooks to view the gorge and the escarpment also would be part of the plan.

When the trail reaches the bottom of the escarpment, its users would use the access road in Artpark to reach village streets. Cyclists or walkers could then use Route 18 to access to an existing pathway, which connects to Youngstown and Lake Ontario in Wilson.

“It’s a very important project. In Niagara County, there’s two missing pieces of the trail path. There’s one in Wheatfield, and the other one is here in Lewiston, so that literally you can get in Gratwick Park and walk or bike all the way to Lake Ontario,” Rotella said. “It’s pretty exciting.”

In another matter, the board discussed residents’ concerns about dust kicked up by trucks leaving two clay mines on Ridge Road.

Board members said trucks are supposed to be watered down before they reach the roadway, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. The board said Building Inspector Timothy Masters should have the jurisdiction to find them in violation of town laws. “They’re not keeping the roads clean, which makes it hazardous,” said Councilman Ronald Winkley.

Mary Proietti, who has lived on Ridge Road for 80 years, said she wants something done. “You’ve got these dump trucks going up and down the road,” Proietti said. “My house is covered with clay dust. … I want to keep my front windows open to get air, and I can’t do it. This is the country – not Buffalo Avenue.”