‘BUILD’ grants designed to return traffic to Main Street at One Seneca Tower & rebuild American Falls bridges
Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is advocating for the U.S. Transportation Department to fund applications submitted by the City of Buffalo and New York State Parks for federal grants under the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program.
In his letter to the transportation secretary, Higgins highlighted the “Cars Sharing Main Street” project as a national example for public-private infrastructure investment: “The City of Buffalo is proposing to leverage funding through this program to accelerate more than $200 million in private sector investment and bring more than 2,000 jobs to the heart of downtown Buffalo. This is precisely the type of exciting initiatives which leverages the power of private-sector job creation which Congress had in mind when it authorized the BUILD program.”
Higgins has helped to secure over $43 million in federal funding to the project returning cars to Main Street thus far:
Niagara Falls State Park is also seeking a federal BUILD grant to rehabilitate and reconstruct the American Falls bridges, which connect Niagara Falls to Green Island and Goat Island over the Niagara River. The bridges, originally constructed in 1900-01, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in dire need of work.
New York State Parks previously announced it is considering de-watering the American Falls during the construction phase, diverting that flow to the Horseshoe Falls as had been done in 1969.
In a letter to Secretary Chao advocating for the Niagara Falls project, Higgins wrote, “The existing bridge is a disgrace and embarrassment. Despite being about forty feet wide, because of its advanced deterioration, its use is restricted to pedestrians. Its surface is a patchwork of ‘temporary’ steel plates and it is braced by a pair of ‘temporary’ superstructural trestles, added in recent years to bear the bridge's reduced load because what is left of the bridge cannot handle it. The existing condition is a glaring symbol to the 8 million people who visit the Falls from around the world that U.S. infrastructure is old, falling down, and no longer up to the tasks for which it was designed and built.”
Congress authorized $1 billion for the BUILD program for fiscal year 2020. The program is highly competitive. No more than $100 million will be awarded to a state, with a maximum grant award of $25 million per project. The administration has indicated it will again award 50% of the grants to rural communities. Build grant applications are due May 18.