Niagara Gazette

May 13, 2013

Parkway removal project heads to Washington

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Plans to remove portions of the Robert Moses Parkway got a boost on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives this week. 

During a session Tuesday in Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Niagara Falls and Buffalo, called on federal lawmakers to aid in his bid to hold the New York Power Authority to its “responsibility” to fund the parkway’s removal. 

On Friday, Higgins took to the House Floor to continue the fight. The Congressman’s remarks are below:

“Niagara Falls is a national treasure, drawing millions of visitors each year, yet the parkway has created a physical, and an economic, barrier between Niagara Falls and its extraordinary waterfront,” Higgins said during a speech on the House floor. 

“With federal infrastructure dollars already stretched thin, we must take every opportunity to look at alternative funding sources,” he added. “In this case, the New York Power Authority, the body responsible for the creation of the parkway and the current owner of its infrastructure, has the responsibility and capacity to fund its removal.

“Mr. Speaker, we cannot let NYPA off the hook on this historic wrong. By holding them to this obligation, we free up state or federal resources for additional projects in Niagara Falls, maximizing the impact of our investment. It’s time for Niagara Falls to have the waterfront it deserves.”

Earlier this year, Higgins publicly called upon the power authority to step forward to finance plans to reconfigure the parkway, particularly the northern section which has been the subject of debate for many years. 

A state-led scoping process has resulted in plans to adopt one of three preferred reconfiguration options, all of which involve removal of a two-mile stretch of the norther portion of the parkway. 

On the heels of Higgins’ comments in Washington, D.C, New York State Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-Lewiston, issued statements of his own saying he would like to see the parkway redesign effort move along quicker. 

In a release issued this week, Ceretto said he’s pressing state officials to come to a swift agreement on the final redesign, noting that “every day that passes without breaking ground” is another day Niagara Falls “does not get to reap economic benefits of a redeveloped waterfront.”

“We have spent a lot of time discussing how we are going to redesign the Robert Moses Parkway and how we are going to pay for it,” Ceretto said in the release from his office. “I fear that we are suffering from ‘analysis paralysis’ that is stopping any meaningful action from happening. It is time to come to a final agreement on a redevelopment plan and complete the project. The sooner this happens, the sooner we can open the waterfront to commercial development.”

With mug of Higgins Brian Higgins - no explainer