Campus News

MUP students help plan for Buffalo’s next rails-to-trails project

Darren Cotton and Stephanie Bucalo lead a tour of the North Buffalo Rails to Trails for UB urban planning students.

Stephanie Bucalo (far left) and Darren Cotton (second from left) lead a tour of the North Buffalo Rails to Trails for UB urban planning students.

By TYLER MADELL

Published October 7, 2019

“The Northeast Greenway has the potential to be a transformative project for our community, and students challenge us to think differently, to embrace new ideas, and plan courageously.”
Darren Cotton, UB MUP graduate and community planner
University District Community Development Association

A UB master of urban planning studio recently toured sites along what could be one of Buffalo’s next multi-use paths.

The new path would connect the nearly one-mile North Buffalo Rails to Trails — and its nearly five-mile continuation in the town and city of Tonawanda — with the cycle track that parallels William L. Gaiter Parkway from Kensington Avenue to East Delavan Avenue. The combined trails would create a seven-mile continuous trail for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The studio is directed by urban planning faculty member Ellen Parker, an urban planner with decades of experience in Western New York. The studio will work alongside the University District Community Development Association (UDCDA) to help envision the next phase of rails to trails in Buffalo. The studio is part of a broader planning effort led by UDCDA, which received a $50,000 grant from the Ralph Wilson Legacy Fund to support community engagement and planning for the trail.

The new segment of trail, named the Northeast Greenway, would follow the former DL&W right of way and connect Shoshone Park, McCarthy Park and Manhattan Avenue Park, with the LaSalle Metro station with Kensington Avenue at its opposite ends. The project builds upon a previous undergraduate urban design studio led by UB architecture and urban design professor Hiro Hata.

Map showing the exisiting North Buffalo Rails to Trails, the William L. Gaiter cycle track, and the connecting trail project known as the Northeast Greenway Initiative. Image Source: UDCDA

The tour was led by UDCDA’s community planners Stephanie Bucalo and Darren Cotton, a 2010 graduate of the MUP program.

“We’re excited to be working with one of UB’s graduate planning studios because we believe students to be one of the biggest untapped resources in the University District,” Cotton says. “The Northeast Greenway has the potential to be a transformative project for our community, and students challenge us to think differently, to embrace new ideas, and plan courageously.”

The studio will have to grapple with a number of challenges facing the design of the pathway, mainly how the path will cross busy intersections at Main Street, East Amherst Street and Kensington Avenue.