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EHEI Award: Encouraging Nonmotorized Transportation

Replacement of a Pedestrian Bridge over Route 33

New York

Close up Photo of rock face of pedestrian bridge
False stonework on the new pedestrian bridge
is reminiscent of early 20th century
techniques used in the area.
Credit: NYSDOT

Photo of pedestrian bridge
New pedestrian bridge over Route 33
near Buffalo, NY Credit: NYSDOT

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) started an initiative to replace an aging pedestrian bridge over the Kensington Expressway, which connects downtown Buffalo to the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport and the eastern outlying suburbs of Buffalo. This bridge, originally built in the 1960s, links two communities that were separated as a result of the expressway's construction. The new bridge design strengthens community connections and encourages pedestrian access. In doing so, it serves as a good model for future pedestrian bridges across a heavily-travelled commuter traffic corridor.

The bridge itself is a five span structure with a graceful sweeping arch that is extenuated by architectural amenities. The center span creates a continuous open view from the expressway that is not exhibited in many places along this corridor. The remaining spans extend over Humboldt Parkway, a parallel service road, to improve pedestrian access and further the structure's connection to the bordering neighborhoods.

The bridge also hosts ADA-compliant ramps at both entrances, further improving accessibility. NYSDOT considered input from the public, as well as the bridge's functionality, economic feasibility, and minimization of traffic impacts due to construction during the design process.

NYSDOT overcame several challenges in replacing the bridge. The Scajaquada Drain runs parallel to the bridge structure. Throughout the process, NYSDOT ensured that construction of the bridge would not affect access to or operation of the drain. NYSDOT also took steps to minimize traffic impacts in the dense residential neighborhoods adjacent to the bridge, and on the expressway below.

The new bridge design incorporates many elements developed from extensive community meetings held by NYSDOT to receive public input. During these meetings, local participants voiced interest in having the structure fit into the historic context of bordering neighborhoods and that it be accessible to all users. Incorporating the public's input into the bridge design, NYSDOT installed eight decorative medallions along the bridge, which signify a connection to local communities and their histories.

At the foot of the bridge within the historic Frederick Law Olmsted Corridor, one set of medallions symbolizes the bridge's connection to this and other Olmsted-designed parks in the Buffalo area with a design from the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy of leaves and stems. Another medallion set with a Buffalo nickel-inspired design represents the Kensington Expressway's connection to the city of Buffalo. The design of bollards and lighting used in the project is the same as found in Delaware and Humboldt Parks, two other Olmsted-designed parks in the Buffalo area.


Photo of pedestrian bridge
New pedestrian bridge over Route 33 near
Buffalo, NY, with historic church in background.
Credit: NYSDOT

The bridge also features false stonework patterns which closely resemble the color of the limestone used for churches in the bridge's vicinity and is reminiscent of stonework performed on the 1900s Bridle Path (Route 198) bridge over Delaware Avenue. Fencing and railings on the new bridge have lighter mesh in their upper sections to provide better viewing opportunities for pedestrians as they cross.

For more information, contact Frank H. Billittier, New York State Department of Transportation Region 5, at fbillittier@dot.state.ny.us.

Updated: 07/11/2012
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