Niagara Gazette

May 7, 2013

Buffalo Billion initiative to aid south Robert Moses Parkway removal

Staff Reports
Niagara Gazette

NIAGARA FALLS — Removal efforts for the south section of the Robert Moses Parkway will soon receive a substantial financial boost thanks to the "Buffalo Billion."

Through the initiative, the state will invest $10 million to remove the current limited-access expressway and replace it with an at-grade parkway which will reunite downtown Niagara Falls with its most valuable and famous asset and one of the state's most visited parks.

For many years, the expressway has been seen as an obstacle between city neighborhoods and the waterfront. This project will fully restore visual and physical access to the various natural and cultural features along the Niagara River and the Niagara Gorge, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

"The Robert Moses Parkway is an outdated impediment to the growth of the City of Niagara Falls, as well as tourism opportunities in the city's urban core," Cuomo said in a press release. "I am pleased that New York state, through the Buffalo Billion initiative, is continuing to invest state resources to leverage tens of millions of dollars in private investment to boost the economy and create jobs. This public infrastructure investment will help the citys tourism business by routing traffic through the city instead of bypassing it."

The public infrastructure investment is also serving a magnet for private investment, as four hotel developers have already lined up, pledging nearly $50 million dollars in private investment as a result of this project which will restore the connection between downtown and its wonder of the world.

According to the press release, WNYREDC identified tourism as one of its target growth areas because of the high potential for job creation and economic growth. Global tourism is a fast growing industry and a significant job creator with as many as 15 jobs created per $1 million spent by travelers.

Locally, the tourism industry in Buffalo Niagara employs more than 50,000 people and creates an approximately $2.2 billion annual economic impact.

Tuesday's announcement focused on outdoor adventure tourism, one of the two promising aspects of local tourism, the press release said.

"This investment will focus specifically on Buffalo's tourism assets, and transforming a part of the city to better attract visitors and drive local development and job growth," Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy said. "Today's announcement exemplifies the state-local coordination that has become a hallmark of this administration: the Regional Economic Development Councils bringing together community leaders to guide the state's investment where it can best serve the people of Buffalo and grow the economy of Western New York."

For more information on Empire State Development, visit www.esd.ny.gov.

For more on the story, be sure to pick up Wednesday's edition of the Niagara Gazette.