NIAGARA FALLS – The State Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would rename the Robert Moses Parkway, the state highway that borders the Niagara River from Niagara Falls to Youngstown, as the Niagara Scenic Parkway.
The name change was requested last month by the Niagara County Legislature, which unanimously passed a resolution that said the existing name provides no tourism value, since visitors can’t tell by seeing the name what the road might do for them.
The bill passed on the same day that Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster held a press conference urging the Federal Highway Administration to start removing the portion of the parkway that borders the Niagara River Gorge, between downtown Niagara Falls and Findlay Drive near the Lewiston-Niagara Falls border.
Both Dyster and Higgins called removal of the north end of the parkway a vehicle for transforming Niagara Falls.
In a statement, Dyster said the parkway cut off the city and its residents from the waterfront and “ushered in an era of unprecedented urban decline and decay.”
Higgins argued that the New York Power Authority, which planned the parkway, built it, evicted homeowners and still owns the land, bears responsibility for financing the project and “righting a historic wrong.”
The 18.4-mile state highway originally was known as the Niagara Parkway. The Moses name was added in the 1960s.
The County Legislature resolution said the proposed name change to Niagara Scenic Parkway was endorsed strongly in an online survey by the Historical Association of Lewiston.
Assemblyman John D. Ceretto, D-Lewiston, said he intends to sponsor a bill in the Assembly to change the parkway’s name.
The New York Power Authority has committed to fund the design costs and 70 percent of the construction costs for removal of the north parkway.
Higgins said the draft design report is unnecessarily stalled. He is pressing the Federal Highway Administration to begin the lengthy review process, even though a brief amount of field work remains.
The project involves removing the parkway and reconstructing Whirlpool Street between Main and Findlay.
Final design is slated to be completed this year, followed by bid solicitation. Construction is set to begin next year.
The Robert Moses Parkway South Riverway project is under construction, including a new roundabout at the entrance to Niagara Falls State Park.
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