Tonawanda News — It’s a transportation project the conception of which came in the 1970s. It finally received funding in 2006. And on Tuesday, at long last, it opened to traffic.
The long and winding road to extending Meadow Drive in North Tonawanda has finally been traveled.
After a long-discussed and sometimes politicized plan to create a 3,300-foot extension — a mere six-tenths of a mile — to connect Meadow Drive with Erie Avenue, officials stood at the foot of the opening to laud its final completion nearly a year after construction began.
The extension, halted by hold-ups over land acquisitions, wetland issues and a dispute over easements with CSX Rail, has been championed as a means to open up a true east-west corridor leading to the city’s central commercial district. It was first discussed more than three decades ago, but largely dropped until 2006, when $1.4 million in federal funding was first secured by former Rep. Tom Reynolds.
”Without the federal funds this project wouldn’t have happened,” North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt said Tuesday.
A $269,000 state grant helped bolster the prospect while the city contributed a mere $80,000 in bonded funds after officials said City Engineer Dale Marshall tweaked the project, narrowing the width of the road and shaving off dollars to make a more manageable budget that was several hundred thousand dollars less than original projections. With a $1.8 million price tag, the project finally launched in late August last year.
Ortt underscored what he said was a full-court press from numerous city departments to bring the project together, also noting that the concept to construct the road began two years before he was born in 1979.
”Despite numerous road blocks, some unforeseen, others unnecessary, and thanks to the collective efforts of City Attorney Shawn Nickerson, City Engineer Dale Marshall and our Common Council, working together with my office, this project is finally a reality,” he said. “This is a long overdue and much needed extension that will not only provide short term construction jobs, but will also result in better traffic flow.”