Higgins urges feds to speed up Niagara Gorge Corridor project
Elected officials say the people of Niagara Falls, New York have waited long enough for the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway. On Tuesday, Congressman Brian Higgins urged the Federal Highway Administration to expedite the project so that the Cataract City and its people can be re-introduced to the waterfront.
Higgins is asking the federal government to quickly approve a draft design report for the Niagara Gorge Corridor Project, which calls for the removal of the Robert Moses Parkway. Opened to traffic in 1964, the Parkway is maligned by critics who say while it was built with good intentions, it instead severed Niagara Falls residents from its waterfront.
Mayor Paul Dyster, who stood next to Higgins beneath the elevated section of the Robert Moses Parkway at the intersection of Whirlpool Street and Ontario Avenue, says most local residents have probably never seen this part of the waterfront. When asked what it could offer, given the gorge beneath, Dyster pointed out possibilities including hiking and fishing. And, of course, there's the view of the falls and Rainbow Bridge.
"From what I know of the revitalization of cities across the country, where there's a waterfront and where access has been denied, restoring access to the waterfront is always part of the successful story of the revitalization of those cities," Dyster said.
Congressman Higgins said that in a time of high demand for infrastructure funding, and limited resources, the federal government should accelerate this project, which includes an alternative yet substantial funding source.
"Rather than a heavy reliance on federal funding, the New York Power Authority has committed to fund the design cost and 70 percent of the construction costs for the Robert Moses Parkway North removal project," Higgins said.
It's a commitment he says is most appropriate, given that the NYPA first built the parkway, evicted dozens of homeowners to build the roadway and continues to own the land beneath the Parkway.