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Rebuilt Ferry Street Lift Bridge part of West Side rehab effort

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Work is starting on the rebuilding of the Ferry Street Lift Bridge, the latest project in a $36 million West Side construction effort.The bridge passed the century mark last year and will be getting an $8 million rehab using federal, state and local funds. It's the latest of a series of West Side projects to improve the infrastructure of the neighborhood, from a massive $16 million rehab of Niagara Street to major repairs on the Bird Island Pier.

City Hall is also renovating Broderick Park, the Black Rock Channel, and the International Railroad Bridge.  With Mayor Byron Brown, Rep. Brian Higgins and Assemblyman Sean Ryan on hand Wednesday, there was a ceremonial lift of the bridge planned, as a sailboat passed under a lifting bridge.

The West Side has become an active and diverse community and Buffalo United Front President George Johnson says it shows up in Broderick Park.

"This is probably the melting pot of the city when it comes to different ethnicity of people. You got all types of people. It's a melting pot of different nationalities from all over. You got Burmese, Chinese, Black, Hispanic, Asian, you name it. Everybody's here and we just have a great time," said Johnson.

The bridge project will take at least a year. By that time, the current parking lot repaving in the park will be done as will the snack bar which is wrapping up the outside of the building with workers now moving inside.

Johnson says there are a lot of people from outside the area visiting Broderick Park because of its status as the last stop on the Underground Railroad for slaves seeking freedom in Canada, just across the Niagara River.

Mayor Brown says the bridge won't have pedestrian access during the re-construction but there will be improvements to the railroad bridge so people can come to Broderick that way. The bridge is showing its 101 years and will get major work, visible from the Niagara Section of the Thruway.