Niagara Gazette — A federal lawmaker on Thursday asked a regional transportation group to use a portion of U.S. highway funding to help cover the cost for the final design of proposed changes to the southern section of the Robert Moses Parkway.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urged members of the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council to accelerate programming for the full removal of the parkway's southern section, which he characterized as a "revitalizing construction project" for Niagara Falls.
Schumer's request follows last week's release by the Office of New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation of plans to remove a berm from the section in question and create more of a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere on the portion leading from the John B. Daly Boulevard exit to Niagara Falls State Park downtown.
"Last December, I called for this section of the Robert Moses to be removed because it has long stood in the way of progress and development in Niagara Falls and I will continue to throw my full support behind this project and will work to clear any hurdles or bureaucratic red tape between this project and its completion."
According to Schumer, the state has committed $5 million for the final project through the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. The project is eligible for federal transportation funding to cover the remaining expenses of construction, after the Federal Highway Administration has completed its review and approved the final design. Schumer said the federal government will play a significant role in the parkway removal process from the submission of last week's design until construction is complete.
As the Metropolitan Planning Organization for Western New York, the GBNRTC is responsible for programming the use of funds for all projects on the federal Transportation Improvement Program, or TIPS, list.
In a letter delivered to GBNRTC Executive Director Hal Morse, Schumer encouraged the local transportation group to join his office in the effort to complete the reconfiguration of the parkway's southern section.
"Again, I urge that you accelerate programming for the final design of this project," Schumer wrote.
Schumer's comments came the same day the office of state parks offered an "open house" to allow the public to view the draft design report for the Robert Moses Parkway south segment between Daly Boulevard and Old Falls Street. Details on the final design report and environmental study for the so-called "Riverway" project were available for public view for several hours during Thursday's open house.
State parks will continue to receive written comments on the proposal and copies of the plan will be available for review and comment through Jan. 31 at City Hall and the Niagara Falls Public Library as well as online at http://nysparks.com/inside-our-agency/public-documents.aspx.
Written comments on the plan can be submitted by mail to: David Szuba, P.O. Box 1132, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14303.