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Bike path plan for former Bethlehem Steel plant shared with public

Erie County Industrial Development Agency
A map of the former Bethlehem Steel site, showing the bike path plan.

For generations, area residents have traveled up and down Route 5, flanked by the old Bethlehem Steel plant in Lackawanna and hundreds of acres of old industry. Now a basic change is on the way: a bike path the length of the old steel plant.

Earlier this week, workers put the last roof beam on the new TMP Technologies complex on the steel plant site. It is located just off Dona Street, the first public road across the old Bethlehem site and an access to TMP.

Thursday night, the Erie County Industrial Development Agency held a virtual public hearing on the plan to extend a bike path from Dona to Woodlawn Beach State Park. It would be harder than you might think, because there is a massive railroad embankment ahead which will require a bike tunnel.

"The Poloncarz Administration says it's part of a major effort to turn the old steel plant into a new source of jobs," said Ed Flynn, planning director for LaBella Associates, an architectural and engineering firm based in Rochester. "That includes Dona Street onto the Bethlehem site, which now carries traffic to the construction site for TMP Technologies' new plant and what the IDA says will be a net-zero light industrial building, producing more energy than it uses."

"That you can incorporate these type of energy producing technologies into buildings in Buffalo and make them work," said John Cappellino, ECIDA President and CEO. "So we also look at it as kind of an educational building as well, to educate the public and others that you can make sustainable energy improvements and sustainable energy systems work in our climate."

Deputy Erie County Executive Maria Whyte said the bike path is part of a vision of a path spanning north to south in Erie County.

"Near Isle View Park, all the way down the southern end of Erie County, in Evans and Angola," Whyte said. "And we have envisioned that a trail system would go right from that very top of the county all the way down to the southern part of the county. And with this project, we are continuing to fulfill that vision."

The project is years from completion, but it is at the stage of three potential routes from Dona to Woodlawn Beach, now on a map to be studied and scrutinized by those who put up the cash.

Credit Erie County Industrial Development Agency
Where a net-zero industrial building would be located on the former Bethlehem Steel site.

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.
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