Road construction boosts economic growth in Cheektowaga

Construction workers widen Walden Avenue on May 12, 2017 Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Construction workers widen Walden Avenue on May 12, 2017 Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – Partners in government from the state and local level gathered along Walden Avenue Friday morning to officially announce the state’s funding to widen Walden Avenue.

From L to R: Councilmember Hammer, Councilmember Magierski, Senator Kennedy, Supervisor Benczkowski and FAIR Chairwoman Carley Hill at Friday's announcement of state funding for the Walden Avenue road construction project. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
From L to R: Councilmember Hammer, Councilmember Magierski, Senator Kennedy, Supervisor Benczkowski and FAIR Chairwoman Carley Hill at Friday’s announcement of state funding for the Walden Avenue road construction project. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

State Senator Tim Kennedy says the Walden Avenue commercial district is is one of the most important commercial districts, not only in the Town of Cheektowaga but in all of Western New York.

“We’re seeing an amazing corridor of economic growth and opportunity happening right here in the heart of the Town of Cheektowaga. This $2.5 million dollar project is only going to enhance that,” said Kennedy.

Walden Avenue will be widened and an additional left-turn lane will be added for traffic heading to northbound Galleria Drive from eastbound Walden. Galleria Drive will be realigned and widened.

Walden Avenue is traveled by tens of thousands of individuals on a daily basis and hundreds of thousands of individuals on a weekly and monthly basis according to Kennedy’s figures.  Visitors are coming into the town from not only all over Western New York, but from Canada and the northeast region as well.

In just a few years, the Walden Avenue commercial corridor has welcomed national chains like Cabela’s, Panera Bread, QDOBA and Chipotle as well as local favorite Rachel’s Mediterranean.  Hotels have also been built in the area allowing for out-of-town visitors to spend more time exploring our town and region.

“Strategic public sector infrastructure investment will be met with private sector investment, economic growth and job creation and this project and other projects of its kind are the perfect example of that,” added Kennedy.

Supervisor Benczkowski talks with a construction worker along Walden Avenue on May 12, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Supervisor Benczkowski talks with a construction worker along Walden Avenue on May 12, 2017 while Senator Kennedy and Councilmember Hammer look on. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

Standing in the parking lot of the old Famous Dave’s Barbecue restaurant, Supervisor Diane Benczkowski says the road construction work on Walden Avenue is important because of all of the visitors.

“This side of the street we have hotels and people are staying here and sometimes they just want to walk over to that side because there are more businesses over there,” said Benczkowski.

The construction work will address safety issues and improve traffic flow – especially during Christmastime when, “it really gets crazy,” added Benczkowski.

She met with Department of Transportation leaders over a year ago to address the concerns on Walden Avenue and other state arteries in town.  Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the funding for the Walden Avenue project following the efforts of Benczkowski, the town hired lobbying firm Bolton-St. Johns and Senator Tim Kennedy.

Construction workers widen Walden Avenue on May 12, 2017 Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Construction workers widen Walden Avenue on May 12, 2017 Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

“This is a great project, but the next thing on my list is the William Street/Union/Thruway entrance corridor. That is an ongoing problem and you should try going there during rush hour,” said Benczkowski.

The corridor becomes congested with commuters in the mornings and evenings – mainly because of all the new development in Lancaster.

“Those people from Lancaster are traveling down Losson through Cheektowaga and using that entrance to the Thruway and then it causes this bottleneck,” added Benczkowski.

“There needs to be a different entrance to the Thruway, we need one on Broadway.”

Broadway not only offers a straight shot to the Thruway from Lancaster, but an on-ramp there would also allow trucks from the heart of Cheektowaga’s industrial zone easy access instead of traveling around Union and Harlem road to pick up the entrances on William and Walden.

For over a year, Benczkowski says she has had meetings with the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council to get Cheektowaga on the Thruway Authority’s list for a new on-ramp.  “It takes a while to get on the list,” added Benczkowski.