Empire State Development Announces the Completion of the Walkable Olean Phase II Project

October 22, 2021

Project is Designed to Calm Traffic and Increase Walkability in the City

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced the completion of construction for the Walkable Olean Phase II project. The nearly $1.5 million dollar project quiets traffic and encourages safe pedestrian travel in the City’s downtown area, bolstering the local economy by providing easier access to businesses.

"A vibrant downtown is vital to transforming communities into great destinations to work, play and raise a family,” said Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis. "ESD’s investment in the Walkable Olean Phase II project will help generate economic activity by increasing pedestrian traffic and opening up new opportunities for businesses.”

The public works project extended the previously completed Walkable Olean initiative, which renovated North Union Street from State Street to Main Street. Through Phase II, Main Street was reconstructed from North Union to Olean General Hospital, and also included improvements on Front Street from the North Union Street Extension to First Avenue. The project was supported by business owners, the Beautification Committee, Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce and passionate residents who embraced the opportunity to improve the business district in the City of Olean by making it more user friendly.

The Walkable Olean Phase II project includes the following elements:

  • Two raised median islands along North Barry Street to aid in pedestrian crossing.
  • A10-foot, shared-use sidewalk on the east side of Main Street from North Union to the bridge over Olean Creek with a southbound bicycle lane.
  • A median with grass and trees on Front Street between North Union Street Extension and Main Street to calm traffic by reducing the four-lane street to a two-lane street with a left turning lane on each end.
  • Milling and resurfacing the streets and improvements of pedestrian crossings.
  • Bollard and traditional street lighting throughout the area.

Funding includes a $285,964 grant from Empire State Development Regional Economic Development Council’s Regional Council Fund (Round I) and $541,913 from the state Transportation Alternatives Program, as well as part of the city’s annual state Consolidated Street and Highway Improvement Program. National Grid contributed $100,000 toward lighting on the project.  The City of Olean contributed $493,000.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “The State Department of Transportation is proud to support and invest in the Walkable Olean Phase II project, which will help stimulate the local economy and benefit the larger community.  With raised medians, a new sidewalk, and other traffic calming measures, this project will allow pedestrians to safely experience, patronize and enjoy all that downtown Olean has to offer.”

The City is continuing this would through a Third Phase valued at $1.6 million that will include reconstruction of East State Street, focused on the section of the street near the Olean Municipal Building. That project will be primarily funded by the City’s 2017 New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative award.

The Walkable Olean initiative is aligned with, the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council’s emphasis on smart growth and downtown redevelopment as core economic goals in its Strategy for Prosperity. By creating vibrant, walkable downtowns built on the principles of smart growth the WNY REDC seeks to create attractive places for people to want to live, work, and raise a family, and in turn create attractive environments for businesses to locate. Investments in existing downtowns have also been found to reduce local infrastructure and municipal service costs, helping to ease fiscal difficulties.

Senator George Borrello said, “These latest investments in Olean’s downtown will produce returns many times over in terms of increased economic activity and quality of life, which is why I was a strong supporter of this project. Mayor Aiello and local officials have been the force behind downtown's ongoing transformation, and they deserve kudos for pursuing their vision. I would also like to thank Empire State Development, the Department of Transportation and all of the state and local partners who have made these wonderful improvements possible and set the stage for a bright future for this community.” 

Assembly Member Joseph Giglio said, “Phase II of the Walkable Olean project continues the commitment of the City and its partners to make Olean's downtown more pedestrian-friendly. These improvements will further enhance the economic climate and make Olean more attractive for businesses that cater to foot traffic. Safer streets are always very good for the community, and we thank Empire State Development for the funding that helped make this project possible for the City of Olean. The hard work of the mayor, other local government officials, concerned citizens, and business owners to gather support, create a plan, and bring it to life should be commended. It is wonderful to see the results of their efforts in the completion of Phase II of the Walkable Olean Project.”

Mayor William Aiello said, “Walkable Olean Phase II is a pleasant addition to Olean’s downtown district.  It is pedestrian friendly in a park-like setting and very welcoming.  Special attention was paid to the lighting which offers both bollard pathway lights for those walking and traditional streetlights for traffic.  In addition, new pedestrian traffic signals were installed at the intersection of Front and Main Streets, one of Olean’s busiest corners.  The new signals benefit both the pedestrian and traffic flow.  I am very appreciative of the funding that the City received from New York State Department of Transportation, Empire State Development, and National Grid as well as the support from the Olean Common Council.”

About Empire State Development

Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Kathy Hochul’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NY” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

Pamm Lent (Governor’s Office) | [email protected] | (716) 846-8309
Laura Magee (ECHDC) | [email protected] | (716) 846-8239