Leaders say there is no time for stall as Niagara Falls works to regain 'rightful access to its waterfront'
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, and City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster are calling on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to move swiftly on approval of the draft design report for the Niagara Gorge Corridor Project. They said the vital economic and community development project in the City of Niagara Falls is currently unnecessarily stalled.
In a letter to FHWA, Higgins pressed the department to commence review of the lengthy draft design report while a brief amount of fieldwork awaits the spring thaw.
"While the City of Niagara Falls anxiously awaits progress, a vehicle to help the community reclaim its waterfront sits," Higgins said. "There is no reason why the lengthy process for review can't begin today."
"No infrastructure project that I can image will have such transformational impacts on the City of Niagara Falls, and especially it's north end, than getting rid of the Robert Moses Parkway," Dyster said. "Moses, whose intentions we hope were good, nonetheless ushered in an era of unprecedented urban decline and decay. His 'parkway' cut off our city and its citizens from their most precious asset: Our waterfront. In his career, he sought to steamroll over every objection in making his flawed vision a reality, here and elsewhere. How ironic it will be, if our efforts to reverse the negative impacts of his past decisions, are frustrated by the very bureaucracy he was so nimble in circumventing."
Higgins said that, during this time of great demand and limited resources for infrastructure funding, the federal government should be accelerating the Robert Moses Parkway North project, which incorporates a substantial, nontraditional funding stream.
At the urging of Higgins, the New York Power Authority has committed to fund the design costs and 70 percent of the construction costs for the Robert Moses Parkway North removal project, formally known as the Niagara Gorge Corridor Project.
In 2013, Higgins set out to help the city fight to reclaim its waterfront as the congressman outlined in a report, "The Niagara Falls Waterfront: NYPA's Responsibility for the Robert Moses Parkway." Higgins argued NYPA planned the parkway, built it, evicted homeowners and owns the land under the parkway to this day. Therefore, he said, NYPA bears the responsibility for financing the project "to right a historic wrong."
The Robert Moses Parkway South "Riverway" project is currently under construction. Public scoping on the north project, which entails removal of the Robert Moses Parkway and reconstruction of Whirlpool Street between Main Street and Findlay Drive, began in 2013. Under the current timeline, final design must be completed this year, followed by bid solicitation and then construction commencing late next year.