Tonawanda News — After a rough winter that held up progress on the Meadow Drive extension project, North Tonawanda city officials and residents are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
The project was, in large part, pursued to create an east-west corridor between the city’s commercial district on Payne Avenue and the heavily trafficked Erie Avenue and Niagara Falls Boulevard. First broached in the 1970s, the extension was left by the wayside until 2006, when $1.4 million in federal funding brought new hopes for its completion, along with a later acquired $270,000 state grant.
Yet a myriad of issues including the obtainment of land easements though CSX railroad property and privately-owned parcels as well as state and federal wetland rules nearly nixed the plan. But in August, a trove of political factions lined up near the project’s start to declare those problems in the past.
City Engineer Dale Marshall had said the 3,300-foot extension costing $1.8 million would be completed by December, though roadblocks soon formed over construction issues and the early onset of winter pushed the completion up to 2014. In the meantime, the city was left with a price tag of $89,000, which was covered through bonded funds.
Mayor Rob Ortt said the project is on the precipice of being wrapped up, with an expectation that the extension will be in place by mid-June. Still, he said, the city has also had to wait for CSX contractors to complete a portion of the work, which he indicated has caused further delays.
“We’ve been at the mercy of CSX because they actually have to do the work on the crossings,” Ortt said. “If it wasn’t for CSX it would be done. But it’s getting closer and closer.”
Ortt also stressed the importance of opening up a new corridor to additional traffic, which he sees as having potential economic implications in the heart of the city.