by Joshua Maloni
Local leaders were pleasantly surprised the first "Tuesdays in the Park" concert at Artpark didn't run into any thruway construction-related traffic problems this week. Just one month ago, they had expressed serious concern motorists would experience long delays heading into and out of the Village of Lewiston on event nights as a result of I-190 lane restrictions in front of the New York Power Authority.
"It appears that things went fairly well last concert," Mayor Terry Collesano said Friday.
Members of the state Department of Transportation, New York State Parks and local business leaders - including Artpark & Company president George Osborne - met with Collesano to review traffic flow. Tuesday's Daryl Hall & John Oates concert was a sellout, with approximately 10,000 ticketholders on site.
Getting in and out of Artpark on concert nights has been a challenge since the "Tuesdays in the Park" concert series started landing big-name musicians a decade ago. Steps have since been taken to more efficiently move traffic out of the village, including opening a slip ramp to the Robert Moses Parkway just past Artpark's Portage Road entrance.
When DOT announced plans to replace two I-190 bridges over the course of this summer and next, local leaders expressed anxiety Artpark patrons would be adversely affected.
"We're obviously concerned," Osborne said. "That's the biggest complaint we get from all of our shows at Artpark is it's so hard to get out. It's hard enough to get out of the village, because it's all going to the same couple of streets.
"But, you know, (we) usually get a bunch of emails from people about things like that, and I haven't gotten any since the Tuesday concert, which would indicate, maybe, it's not any worse than it has been."
Collesano said, "It sounds like (Lewiston) police had everything under control, and Artpark did a good job with the crowd. It went over well.
"We'll keep our eyes and ears open to see if anything happens down the road."
Officials met in May, prior to the Artpark & Company season, in an effort to plan and prepare for any unexpected traffic delays. Local business owners were invited to attend the meeting. Water Street Landing owner Jon DiBernardo was the most vocal opponent of the new, construction-related traffic patterns, as he said the lane closures could cause unwanted delays and render serious damage to village restaurants and retail stores.
His business weathered the first "Tuesdays in the Park" concert without any immediate damage.
"I'm so pleasantly surprised that it wasn't a problem," he said.
However, DiBernardo said he remains concerned lane restrictions on the Grand Island bridges could hinder the flow of traffic.
"I still think, though, that we're not out of the woods if they close the bridge down," he said, suggesting that would be worse than the Lewiston-area construction zone.
Collesano said his office would contact the Thruway Authority to ascertain its bridge repair schedule.
Artpark has two outdoor concerts this week, with Widespread Panic performing Tuesday, and Arctic Monkeys kicking off "Coors Light Wednesdays."