Wednesday, July 23, 2008

US 20 in NY: Section Named After Russert

As previously mentioned in my blog (here), a recommendation was made to name a section of US Route 20 after NBC journalist Tim Russert.

President George W. Bush approved the resolution today. Here’s the full story from the Buffalo News:

Bush signs Russert Bill, from the Buffalo News

It's official: Road near stadium becomes Tim Russert Highway
By Jerry Zremski - News Washington Bureau Chief
Updated: 07/23/08 12:38 PM

WASHINGTON -- President Bush today signed a bill renaming part of Route 20A near Ralph Wilson Stadium after Tim Russert.

The bill, which Congress passed overwhelmingly, renames the section of the highway between Abbott Road and California Road "Timothy J. Russert Highway."

Russert, the late Washington bureau chief for NBC News, was a Buffalo native who frequently ended "Meet the Press" with the words "Go Bills!"

After Russert died of a massive heart attack on June 13, Bush remembered him as "a tough and hardworking newsman" who was "always well informed and thorough in his interviews. ... And he was as gregarious off the set as he was prepared on it."

The proposal won widespread support in Congress.

"The passion for Buffalo that Tim demonstrated on a national stage was a source of pride for our city," said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, who pushed for the renaming in the House. "It is only fitting that from now on, part of the experience of going to a Bills game will be being reminded of this great Buffalonian."

On the Senate side, Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., led the fight for the bill.

"Tim Russert was in every way, Mr. Buffalo," Schumer said. "With his trademark 'Go Bills' sign-off, Tim Russert showed his pride for the city that made him who he was. He always cared about Buffalo, and when I spoke with him just a few weeks ago he said he would do everything he could to keep the Bills in Buffalo."

Clinton, meanwhile, said: "While this is a small gesture to honor an icon who gave us all so much, we hope that when people drive down Route 20 past Ralph Wilson Stadium, they'll remember the man who never forgot his hometown or his beloved Buffalo Bills."

The renamed highway won't be the last tribute to Russert if a group of his local admirers gets its way. More than 400 people have signed an online petition calling for Buffalo-Niagara International Airport to be renamed "Tim Russert Buffalo International Airport."

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

US 20 in Ohio: Euclid Corridor Project Wraps Up

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Euclid Corridor Project, which is a complete reworking of US Route 20 from the Terminal Tower, east to University Circle, will be completed soon. I was just in downtown Cleveland yesterday and snapped a few pictures and video clips of the work in progress closer to the Terminal Tower. While it still looks like quite a mess, there are many things already in place that indicate this will be a great help to moving cars, buses, and pedestrians on Euclid Avenue. I took a short video of the construction area (below).

Short Video of Construction Area

Here’s the story from the Cleveland Plain Dealer with a full update on the project’s completion.

Euclid Avenue construction nears completion
Posted by James Ewinger July 16, 2008 23:30PM
Updated at 11:30 p.m.
Chris Stephens/The Plain Dealer

Mike Lang stands behind an improbable but well-stocked bar, amid oceans of exquisitely tailored clothing.

The new bar and a line of women's apparel are in response to an 80 percent drop in his business since the Euclid Corridor project started taking shape outside his expansive windows at East 12th Street and Euclid Avenue.

"It's been horribly distressing, but I understand that instead of putting icing on a cake that's rotten, they have to do the infrastructure first," Lang said.

A part of the infrastructure that's been closed since October is to reopen by noon today.

Traffic is expected to be restored on Euclid Avenue between East Ninth and East 14th streets, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority announced Wednesday. The leg from Public Square to East Ninth is to reopen July 28.

The road construction is part of RTA's Euclid Corridor project, a $200 million effort that's remaking Euclid Avenue into a bus-rapid transit system.

"Lower Euclid Avenue is at the very heart of Cleveland, and having traffic restored there will enable thousands to move around the city easier and enjoy all the improvements the project has made," said Joe Calabrese, RTA's CEO and general manager.

Elliot Azoff, an attorney with the law firm of Baker & Hostetler in the downtown National City Bank building, welcomes the completion.

"If they ever get it finished, I can cross the street without feeling like I'm going through a battle zone," Azoff said. As a motorist, though, he's less enthusiastic about the project because he found it difficult to drive Euclid Avenue even before the construction.
The heaviest work remains at the eastern end of the project between East 86th Street and the East Cleveland line, with an expected grand opening by Oct. 25.

For all of his trials and tribulations, Lang calls the corridor project a spark for public and private investment, a rising tide of retail and residential development.

The Bonfoey Gallery, a 115-year-old art gallery at the corner of East 17th Street and Euclid Avenue, lost its on-street parking but felt a "minimal" drop in business since the corridor began to take shape, said general manager Olga Merela.

But "our business is very different from others," Merela said. "Our clients are more geographically diverse and foot traffic coming through our door is not the bulk of our business."

Bonfoey president Richard G. Moore is happy with results from the Euclid Corridor project, saying traffic flows freely and the new extension of East 17th Street south makes the store visible to a stream of cars that didn't exist before.
But at the westernmost end of Euclid Avenue, Dan Krasny has given up on any traffic until the project is completed.

He shut down his Vivo's restaurant in the Old Arcade on July 1, and laid off 35 employees.

"They forced me to close my restaurant. You couldn't even walk in my front door," he said.

"Our plan is to reopen when the street is finished, but that could change in 10 minutes," he said. "People need to be told."

RTA spokesman Jerry Masek said the sidewalk by the Arcade will reopen by late July along with the street itself.

"We realize our construction has caused some merchants great inconvenience but that is the price of progress. . . . Businesses have been closing on Euclid Avenue for years, and they were not that noticeable because there was not a multimillion-dollar project outside their door. If we weren't there, businesses would still be closing."

Masek said the transit authority hopes Vivo's reopens "because it's a good restaurant."

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

US 20 In Massachussets: Start Point Video

The (an Albany, Oregon newspaper) has listed an on-line editor entry covering their discovery of the eastern terminus of US Route 20 in Massachusetts. There is a short video on the blog, which can only be viewed on the blog page. If you click on the article link below, it will take you to the video.

The eastern end of U.S. Route 20
Posted by Graham Kislingbury July 15, 2008

One day while in Boston in the early 1990s, I noticed a highway sign with the number 20.

“Is this the Highway 20 that starts in Newport, Oregon?” I asked a guy.

“It’s the one,” he told me, adding that it ends (or starts, depending on your geographic perspective) right there in Boston.

I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea that our Highway 20 meandered through parts of 12 states from coast to coast.

And that got me thinking about someday traveling Highway 20 from Boston to Newport and doing stories and photos about the people I’d encounter along the way. I envisioned starting with the guys from “Car Talk,” who are based across the Charles River from Boston in Cambridge. Mass, and ending with a Vietnam veteran in on the Vietnam veterans memorial pathway to the beach in Newport, about one mile from the western terminus of U.S. 20 at the intersection with U.S. Route 101.

I’ll probably never do that cross-country storytelling journey. It’s been done many times, I’ve been told. What could I add to it?

Last Saturday, however, I decided to satisfy my curiosity about one Highway 20 question: Where exactly does it end in Boston? After spending 10 days in Massachusetts visiting my wife Nancy’s family, we had three hours to wander around Boston before heading to Logan Airport for our flight back to Oregon. So after driving downtown and past Boston Common, we steered toward the end of Highway 20.

The rental car company’s map wasn’t very detailed, but it showed Highway 20 ending at Route 2. We parked on a nearby street with attractive brownstone residences and offices — all owned by Boston University — then walked west along busy Commonwealth Avenue. In about two blocks, Nancy saw a sign mounted at the intersection of Commonwealth and Beacon Street: “End 20.”

This spot is in the heart of Kenmore Square (really more of a triangle). It’s the site of a lot of road construction this summer. I pulled out the video camera (see the video below) to record the moment. Red Sox fans walking toward Fenway Park two blocks away, cars going through the intersection and some commentary by Nancy, who is happy I’ve gotten Highway 20 out of my system.

Here’s some other tidbits about U.S. 20 that I found in Wikipedia:

At 3,365 miles, it’s the longest road in the U.S.
In addition to Oregon and Massachusetts, it goes through parts of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
The Oregon section of Highway 20 comprises seven highways, including the Corvallis-Newport Highway No. 33 and the Albany-Corvallis Highway 31.
Until 1940, the western endpoint of U.S. 20 was the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

US 20 in New York: Route 20 Ice Cream

Sometimes in my search for information to post about my favorite American road, I stumble upon the unusual. Here’s one stop to make on US Route 20 if you happen to be in New York, outside Buffalo.
It’s Route 20 Ice Cream. According to some information on

This ice cream stand is all about autos. The stand is built on a restored vintage gas station site. From two gas pumps near the ordering window to tire filling equipment to a vintage Studebaker tow truck, the stand is all about a time that's passed. While visiting take a walk around the building. The owners have gather a large collection of old gas station implements. The stand sells hard and soft ice cream, but does not offer other items.

Weekday Hours: From: 12:00 PM To: 11:00 PM
Weekend Hours: From: 12:00 PM To: 11:00 PM

Physical Address:
2783 Southwestern Blvd
Orchard Park, NY USA 14127

It looks like an interesting place to visit! And of course, who doesn't like ice cream? Their web site can be found here.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.