© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Elected leaders, FAIR members call for more equitable infrastructure funding

A still image of a video commissioned by FAIR shows the portion of Louisiana Street marked for a $22 million improvement plan
YouTube/CaHill Tech
A still image of a video commissioned by FAIR shows the portion of Louisiana Street marked for a $22 million improvement plan

An estimated $40 million of infrastructural improvements are planned for Tifft, Hopkins and Louisiana Streets in Buffalo. The money is just a fraction of the funds slated for Western New York in the federal infrastructure act. But local leaders say those projects, and many others, are only possible if the region is adequately funded for infrastructural improvement.

Congressman Brian Higgins, joined by State Senator Tim Kennedy, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and members of the Fair Apportionment of Infrastructure Revenues (FAIR) Committee, announced the projects that he and others say will further connect the public to its waterfront.

Appearing Friday at Tewksbury Lodge on Ohio Street, Higgins noted that several years ago, federal dollars served as a catalyst to converting the once run-down industrial street into a vibrant parkway. But it wasn’t just federal spending. Higgins estimates that for every one dollar of federal money that was spent to fix up Ohio Street, six dollars were created in private investments.

“That is not coincidental. That is a cause and effect relationship,” Higgins said. “It happened on Niagara Street. It happened with cars sharing Main Street. Everywhere we do infrastructure investment, private sector investment follows, and better quality of life.”

Plans for Tifft and Hopkins Streets include road and bridge upgrades, updated walking and bike lanes, improved lighting and sidewalks. The project, which is detailed in a video released last fall by FAIR, is estimated at $18 million.

Meanwhile, the Louisiana Street parkway project, estimated at $22 million, calls for rehabilitation of the bridge crossing over I-190, the addition of a defined bike lane, improved sidewalks and lighting, and pavement upgrades.

FAIR members say the region has been underfunded for infrastructure over many years. As the committee’s Brad Buyers pointed out, Erie County has more lane miles than any other county in New York State, while the Buffalo area has one of the largest stretches of the New York State Thruway, accounting for over 29 percent of the system’s lane miles.

But yet, he stated, it receives less than 15 percent of state program funding. Meanwhile, FAIR has identified numerous high-traffic roadways and bridges that are eligible for federal investment.

““FAIR has identified over $600 million in the Western New York area that are federal aid eligible projects,” Buyers said. “This includes Main Street Medical Campus, Louisiana Street, Tiff Street, the 90-290-33 interchange, also known as the ‘blue water tower’ area, the Mile Strip interchange of the New York State Thruway, the William Street expansion and the Elmwood revitalization.”

The City of Buffalo has a $300 million dollar plan in place. Mayor Byron Brown spoke of it during the presentation. He also spoke of a conversation he and other mayors had with Governor Kathy Hochul about infrastructure spending commitments.

“One of the major things that the governor talked about during that meeting was the importance of infrastructure investment, and increasing infrastructure investment across the State of New York, but particularly in Upstate New York,” Brown said. “We are all unified. We are all aligned in making sure that our community gets its fair share of infrastructure investment, because investment in infrastructure is investment in improved quality of life.”

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.