RiverWalk Trail Extension under bridge will ease travel
WELLSVILLE — Allegany County’s busiest bridge will soon be a whole lot safer for pedestrians.
Officials from Jones Memorial Hospital, the Village of Wellsville, LC Whitford Co. the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) gathered Monday for a meeting of the minds, planning a project that will transform pedestrian traffic around the Route 417 bridge over the Genesee River.
The RiverWalk Trail Extension, as the project is known, will create a pedestrian crossing under the Route 417 bridge, connecting the existing sidewalk on the north side of the road with the RiverWalk Plaza and its businesses.
The effort is being spurred by Jones Memorial Hospital using Wellness Funds that are earmarked for community health projects. JMH raises Wellness Funds through events like Ridgewalk and the upcoming GLOW Run. The RiverWalk Trail Extension fit right in line with the goal of making Wellsville a more walkable community.
“It’s been three years in the making,” said JMH Wellness Committee Chair Brenda Szabo, who received an extra birthday present Monday in the project coming together. “I think it will be wonderful. It will help improve the safety of the community. You can see how dangerous it is every time you see someone in a scooter or a wheelchair trying to cross that road. I’m excited that we’re able to do this project.”
The Wellness Committee will fund the bulk of the project, budgeting $10,000-$15,000, but the effort is also receiving some big assists from other stakeholders. The DOT will be providing the riprap used to strengthen the banks of the Genesee River under the bridge, addressing some erosion issues. LC Whitford Co., which owns the Riverwalk Plaza, put forth a $2,500 cash donation and offered use of equipment. Village Public Works crews will do the sidewalk work.
Work is expected to get underway this summer, possibly starting in July, when water levels recede. Director of Public Works Bill Whitfield said the project should be done a few weeks after the riprap is in place, weather permitting.
“Once that riprap is done, that frees us up to get the grading done,” he said. “The sidewalk itself is not that difficult.”
The project will extend the existing RiverWalk trail under the bridge, looping back up towards the Dollar General plaza on Bolivar Road. Currently, there is no easy way for pedestrians to cross the road. The trail extension will alleviate safety concerns and make for easier travel from North Main Street to the RiverWalk plaza and the walking trail along the Genesee River.
“There’s no crosswalk on this side. They cross over there and walk across the bridge, and then they have to fight traffic to get over to the Riverwalk,” Whitfield said. “We’ll get the DOT to extend the sidewalk on the other side of the bridge up and tie into ours. Worst case scenario, until the concrete is done we’ll have them paint a crosswalk there to meet ours. Ours will be right up just before the Dollar General driveway. They’ll be able to walk back down and loop underneath the bridge and back up here (to RiverWalk).”