Planning for Buffalo's next rails to trails project

Urban planning masters studio works alongside UDCDA on new pathway in UB's backyard

Darren Cotton and Stephanie Bucalo lead a tour of the North Buffalo Rails to trails.

Darren Cotton (second from the left) and Stephanie Bucalo (first from the left) lead a tour of the North Buffalo rails to trails for UB urban planning students. The MUP studio will work alongside Cotton and Bucalo, two planners with the UDCDA, on extending the trail southward across Main Street.

by Tyler Madell

Published September 10, 2019


A UB masters 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 four-mile continuation to 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.

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

The tour was led by UDCDA's community planners Stephanie Bucalo and Darren Cotton (a 2010 graduate of the MUP program himself).

“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 University District," says Cotten. "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.