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Rep. Higgins & Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Announce $5 Million for Buffalo Harbor | Business

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Rep. Higgins & Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation Announce $5 Million for Buffalo Harbor

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) Chairman Jordan Levy announced the release of $5 million, secured through the New York Power Authority relicensing settlement agreement, toward a project to build the Buffalo Harbor Bridge

“For decades limited and disjointed access has kept people, business and opportunity away from the Outer Harbor,” said Congressman Brian Higgins.  “By providing a link between the City’s downtown core and our waterfront we are actually building a bridge to limitless opportunities to draw economic development, jobs, residential living, recreation and tourism into the region.”

"Buffalo's future lies at the water's edge," said ECHDC Chairman Jordan Levy. "The way in which we develop our waterfront will determine our role in the 21st Century. The Buffalo Harbor Bridge will provide an essential link between the burgeoning re-development already occurring downtown and the untapped potential of the Outer Harbor. Buffalo's greatness has always been tied to our waterfront and I want to applaud Congressman Higgins bold leadership on the development of our most precious resource."

Today’s announcement brings the total commitment for the Harbor Bridge project to $7 million.  In 2007 $1.6 million in federal highway funds, secured through Congressman Higgins and designated by the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council along with a $400,000 match from Empire State Development was provided to start the first phase of the project, which consisted of an environmental study and preliminary engineering work.   ECHDC has supported the advancement of the Buffalo Harbor Bridge proposal through the environmental review process and public meetings.  

To achieve a Record of Decision, which is effectively final approval to proceed on design construction, additional non-transportation funds are needed and serve as a significant inducement in the effort to attract conventional Federal and State transportation funding.

“The Power Authority is proud to support efforts to build the Buffalo Harbor Bridge, as it critical to link the outer harbor to the Canal Side project, where recreational, tourism and community development opportunities will soon change the landscape and the economy of the region,” said Richard M. Kessel, president and chief executive officer, New York Power Authority. “I commend Congressman Higgins and ECHDC for the vision to make this dream a reality.”

The Buffalo Harbor Bridge project is intended to replace the former South Michigan Avenue Bridge, which was removed in 1964, with a low-level moveable bridge such as a bascule, swing or lift bridge.   A new multi-modal bridge that accommodates pedestrian, bicyclists, and motorized traffic will turn what is now a 4 mile circuitous route into a 600-foot route across the Buffalo River.  The bridge would also link downtown Buffalo to the new $80 million Outer Harbor Parkway project that will be complete later this month.

Buffalo’s Outer Harbor includes approximately 300 acres of developable land which is undeveloped because of access issues despite the fact that it is immediately adjacent to downtown.   Reports estimate a $72 million investment in the Buffalo Harbor Bridge would return between $173 million and $345 million in total economic benefits and create 1,043 direct and indirect jobs.

Upon receiving the Record of Decision, design is expected to begin in early 2012; construction is expected to begin a few months later and conclude in late 2014.

The Buffalo Harbor Bridge project (PIN 5758.17) is included in New York State’s Long-Range Transportation Plan (Strategies for a New Age: New York State’s Transportation Master Plan for 2030, approved 2006), the Region’s Plan (Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC) 2030 Long-Range Transportation Plan for the Erie and Niagara Counties Region, approved June 2007), the 2008-2012 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) approved June 22, 2007 and the New York State Department of Transportation’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) for Federal Fiscal Years 2008-2011, approved December 10, 2007. 

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