NIAGARA FALLS – New plans call for the Robert Moses Parkway to be dramatically altered at the entrance to Niagara Falls State Park.
A two-lane road, nature trails and public access points will replace much of the existing freeway, State Parks officials said Friday.
The plan would slow traffic and connect people to the water after decades of cutting them off from it.
“Robert Moses did some good things, but this was not one of them,” said Sam Hoyt, regional president of Empire State Development.
“It doesn’t say ‘Come to the waterfront’ by having an expressway there.”
The project could cost as much as $20 million, and state officials have just $5 million allocated at this point.
But they believe the plan could receive money from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s billion-dollar Buffalo fund.
The billion-dollar plan calls for Niagara Falls State Park to offer new ways for tourists to hike, bike, rock-climb and interact with nature.
And the new Moses plan, they say, allows pedestrians to do just that.
Tourists who once had to follow a complicated maze to get to the water would now be directed to three new access points.
Those areas would allow people to cross the parkway at Fourth Street, Riverside Drive and near the upper rapids.
Joggers and walkers would then have access to a new web of trails that stretch along the water’s edge.
New pull-off parking areas would also be installed before the entrance to the park to direct motorists to the trails.
“There’s been a clamoring for improved waterfront access,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster.
He added, “We want to see the river, be able to use the river. We don’t want to feel like we’re criminals to use the water.”
A new traffic circle at John B. Daly Boulevard would slow traffic, creating a true low-speed parkway like the one in Niagara Falls, Ont.
That entire area would be lowered, removing an embankment that walled off many of the city’s homes from what would have been a waterfront view.
The new plan is the latest chapter of a long history of unsuccessful attempts to reverse the work of Moses, the state’s “master builder.”
The new plan will be available for public viewing from 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday in Conference Center Niagara Falls, 101 Old Falls St.
A final design will be developed next year, with construction expected to begin in 2014.
New designs for the northern section of the parkway, between Niagara Falls and Lewiston, will be released in January.