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Campus is part of local greenway project

By : Katie Ellis

A multi-agency effort to provide a safe, attractive bicycle/pedestrian greenway from the eastern end of Broome County into Tioga County continues to move forward, and is tied into future plans that will change traffic patterns entering and exiting Binghamton University.

Greenways, which typically follow natural features such as waterways, also might follow manmade corridors such as former rail beds or utility rights-of-way, said Scott Reigle, senior transportation planner with the Binghamton Metropolitan Transportation Study (BMTS), a regional planning agency that distributes federal transportation funds to local communities and offers transportation planning and engineering services.

“A greenway is a linear park that connects people and places and is primarily used for pedestrian and bike trails,” he said. “They provide opportunities to get people out and active, and are another way to provide facilities for people to choose to bike or walk to work.”

Reigle and Mark Bowers, associate capital program analyst and regional bike/pedestrian coordinator for the New York State Department of Transportation, presented a status report on the Greater Binghamton Greenway project on campus last week. Parts of the greenway already exist and may sound familiar — Otsiningo and Confluence parks in Binghamton, the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade, the Chugnut Trail in Endicott and the Vestal Rail Trail. Several other sections of the greenway are in planning and design stages with funding already committed.

Adjacent to Binghamton University, the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) work is expected to be completed in 2012, according to Karren Bee-Donohoe, director of long-term planning for the University.

“There will be changes to create a continuous flow of traffic that avoids the light at the Bunn Hill/Route 434 intersection and brings traffic directly to the Route 201 ramp,” she said. “From the main entrance, DOT will also be creating a free lane all the way to the right turn onto Murray Hill Road.

“Pedestrians will benefit from a walkway that will follow the 201 loop and allow them to continue to downtown or over Route 201,” she added. “It’s all part of the same project and eventually will connect to the Vestal Rail Trail as well.”

The advantages of completing the greenway project are many, Reigle said. “They preserve green space; provide recreational, health and social benefits; serve as an educational resource; help revitalize the community by providing tourism opportunities; and generally enhance the area’s quality of life.”

Keeping the greenway maintained is very much a cooperative effort, according to Reigle. Funding can come from one or many of several sources: federal, state and local dollars. In-kind support also helps, he said.

“A regional system can be built from individual pieces that benefit their own communities, but individual municipalities must be responsible for maintenance,” he said. “Maintaining trails is a great way for the community to participate, and when that happens, the more successful they’ll be.”

Bowers, who provided an update on implementation of the entire greenway, said progress is being made.

“Currently, 56 percent of the greenway is either built, in design or recently funded,” he said. “We’re trying to promote this as a regional system. Our goal is to be the most bikeable/walkable community in the United States.

“We’ve got tremendous traction now with the success of those completed segments to argue for completing the entire greenway. We’re also beginning to layer events and enhancements to the completed portions of the greenway to help brand and generate interest,” he added.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08