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Removal of two parkways will restore public access to our exceptional resource

Residents have an opportunity to voice their opinion on proposed changes to the Robert Moses Parkway that should go a long way in righting a wrong committed more than 50 years ago.

New York State has recommended one final design for removing a section of the parkway in the City of Niagara Falls. The result should give the public greater access to the Niagara River gorge and state parks.

This $42 million project to remove the two-mile stretch of road between Main Street and Findlay Drive in Niagara Falls was unveiled a few months ago by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Now, the details have been worked out.

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will seek final comments at a public hearing Aug. 25 in the Niagara Falls Conference Center, 101 Old Falls St.

If all goes well, the work would start by the end of 2017, with completion by 2019 or 2020. It has been a long, misguided road upon which motorists have had to travel, one that cut the public off from the gorge.

As Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, said recently, the Robert Moses Parkway was never a “parkway.” It is a sometimes-elevated highway that its backer, Robert Moses, called a parkway to make it sound better. This work will fix a historical wrong imposed on this community 56 years ago by the New York Power Authority.

The authority owns the land on which the parkway sits; it evicted residents who lived along that stretch and maintained the road. Because of that, NYPA is paying for the north end design and 70 percent of its construction.

As reported in The News, for the time being there is no plan to remove any portion of the parkway between Niagara Falls and the Village of Lewiston.

Niagara Falls, Buffalo and other communities are reconnecting with a tremendous resource – their waterfronts. Now it’s Grand Island’s turn. Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray has vigorously pushed, and Higgins supports, closing West River Parkway to build a bike path along the Niagara River. The $2.5 million West River Greenway Trail would be funded with federal and state money. It is also in the comment period, with final design approval slated for the fall. Construction would last from the fall of 2017 until summer 2018.

Some residents have raised objections over increased traffic and the location of parking. Those concerns need to be addressed, but this will be another welcome addition to the region’s network of bicycle paths and continue the process of maximizing public access to the Niagara River.

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