Tangible Results at Waterfront Continue
Washington, DC—Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) announced that he secured $500,000 from the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development (TTHUD) appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2007. This funding will be used for design for the Main Street Bridge in Buffalo.
“The funding for a Main Street Bridge has been long coming, and is the first step in providing access, by bringing the Outer Harbor and the Inner Harbor developments together,” Congressman Higgins said. “The existing Skyway is no longer a functional answer to Buffalo’s transportation infrastructure. With these new funds, we can begin building alternative, accessible routes to the Outer Harbor. Replacing the Skyway with more suitable roads will allow Western New Yorkers to finally have easy and safe access to our great shoreline. This in turn will rev the economic development engine that our area has been waiting for so long, bringing business, residential, and mixed use development to the Outer Harbor.”
“This shows decisive, major progress toward providing direct access from downtown to the Outer Harbor, which has been missing from Buffalo over the past half century,” said Anthony Gioia, ECHDC Board Chairman. “The funds secured by Brian will help to realize the highest and best land use at the Outer Harbor, and I am pleased to work together to see this development become reality. We continue to be extremely grateful for Brian’s continued support and for all the efforts he has given to the Waterfront and to this project in particular. Our community has been tremendously well served by all of Brian’s hard work.”
“We are seeing a major departure from past inaction at our Outer Harbor,” said Larry Quinn, ECHDC Vice Chairman. “This funding will add to the real forward progress in our redevelopment of the Waterfront, enabling access which will lead to Western New Yorkers investing in, and residing and establishing businesses at the Outer Harbor.”
Waterfront areas adjacent to Buffalo’s Central Business District (CBD) have seen robust development recently while areas just across the 100 yard-wide Entrance Channel to Buffalo’s Inner Harbor remain undeveloped and underdeveloped. In 1998, a study was published which looked at alternatives to link the CBD to the underdeveloped Outer Harbor waterfront, including a bridge at the foot of Main Street. The Main Street Bridge gained new momentum this year when it was featured prominently in a study commissioned by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC), a recently-formed subsidiary of New York State’s economic development agency, which is charged specifically with facilitating the redevelopment of Buffalo's Waterfront, and which Higgins pushed for in 2005.
The Skyway costs $15 million in repainting every ten years and $9 million in structural repairs, and it is prospected that it will require as much as $100 million in major sub-structural repairs in the future. Tearing down the Skyway and building the Main Street Bridge will open up the waterfront for development and create real jobs for Western New Yorkers while improving their quality of life.
This new funding comes at a time when much progress is being made at the Waterfront. Recently, ECHDC released a design for commercial and retail development at the Inner Harbor and lower Main Street. Construction is occurring at the Commercial Slip and at the Naval Servicemen’s Museum on the Inner Habor. Ground will be broken for the Greenbelt project later this year, and just this week the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) solicited bids for the Greenbelt, which will be a $12 million project for environmental remediation, bank stabilization and the bicycle and pedestrian pathway, beginning at the Seaway Pier, continuing south around the Bell Slip and further south ending at the Terminal A building.