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Progress seen on reconfiguring Moses Parkway

A plan to remove a portion of the Robert Moses Parkway has passed another checkpoint, according to Sen. Charles E. Schumer.

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will submit a plan in June calling for the removal of the highway between John B. Daly Boulevard and Niagara Falls State Park, the New York Democrat said.

That part will be replaced with an at-grade road that removes a berm separating a nearby neighborhood from the Niagara River, Schumer said.

"Lowering the Parkway would connect downtown with the majestic views of the waterfront park, pumping new life into Niagara Falls," Schumer said in a statement. "This is great news and clears a major hurdle to getting this done."

Local officials have supported the plan for years. It was first announced in 2006 by officials at the state's USA Niagara Development Corp., who said the project would include a landscaped traffic roundabout and a man-made pond stocked with fish from the Niagara River.

Those steps, originally slated to be completed in 2008, were delayed when parks officials said the initial design did not match the historic nature of the park.

Since then, a community scoping process has taken place, and the project has been mired in red tape, said Schumer, who came to Niagara Falls in December and announced he would push the federal Department of Transportation to "fast-track" the project.

"After years of delays, the New York State Parks Department is on board and will submit project designs to the Department of Transportation in the coming months," Schumer added. "We must make up for lost time and get this project to the finish line as quickly as possible, so that this barrier to revitalization in Niagara Falls can be removed."

The state has committed $5 million for the final project through the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, Schumer said, and the project will be eligible for federal transportation funding to cover remaining construction expenses.

State parks officials plan to reveal their proposed design for the project at a public workshop in June.