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Street closure signifies start of work on new Women and Children's Hospital

File photo

The closing of Ellicott Street Friday is the first sign of the construction of the new Women and Children's Hospital.Commuters today may find their usual commute routes thrown off by the closing of Ellicott between High and Goodrich.

The closing will last into July. It's to allow digging up two sections of Ellicott to install two tunnels, one for utilities and one for staff to get between Buffalo General and the new hospital.

Contractors will be rushing to get the tunnels built and the street reinstalled because the city's Ellicott Park project will be starting in July as will excavation for the new hospital.

Robert Bragg, Kaleida's vice president of campus development, says construction is being rushed after the Council approved the tunnels on Tuesday.

"We'll start the utilities immediately," Bragg said. "We've got to make sure the Ellicott Park project stays on target. We'll be done with this project by August 1 and we hope to be starting our excavations, if we stay on target, around June or July."

The staff tunnel means workers, doctors, and potentially patients can move back and forth without going outside. After the closing was approved by City Hall, Councilmember Darius Pridgen said it's a great step forward.

"This is a sign of progress when...we're looking for new ways of safely moving employees without bringing  them outside in the elements. I really do commend Kaleida Health for looking at those ways and caring enough about the employees and ensuring that emergency services personnel would have access," Pridgen said.

Once the tunnels are complete, Ellicott Street will be paved back in place over them.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.