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$16M renovation to breathe new life into Ohio Street Lift Bridge

$16M renovation to breathe new life into Ohio Street Lift Bridge

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The Ohio Street Lift Bridge, built in 1962, will get a major facelift.

A nearly $16 million project, now in the design phase, is expected to begin in 2021.

The mechanical and electrical systems required to operate the lift span will be updated, and the bridge deck, floor beams and sidewalks will be replaced.

The project also includes repainting the structural steel, improving the lighting system and rehabilitating the operator's station.

It's the latest public investment on Ohio Street, which saw an $11.39 million renovation in 2015. Over $8 million in federal highway funds, more than $2 million from the New York Power Authority and $1.2 million from the City of Buffalo made that possible.

Since then, two apartment buildings opened on Ohio Street. Resurgence Brewing relocated to Chicago and Ohio streets in a rehabbed building. The Patrick Paladino Memorial Boathouse was built. Riverfest Park and the Tewksbury Restaurant opened. And Buffalo RiverWorks has become a destination on the other side of the river on Ganson Street.

On Wednesday, a new sports complex announced it would also come to Ganson.

"Every time there is a public investment of infrastructure dollars, private sector investment follows, in many cases three and four times that," said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, a key player in the remake of Ohio Street.

"By funding this renovation of the Ohio Street Lift Bridge, we're building a stronger foundation for economic opportunity, residential accessibility and recreational growth that is already generating new energy along this important corridor," State Sen. Tim Kennedy said Friday.

The 1962 bridge — which crosses the Buffalo River by the cluster of grain elevators known as Silo City — replaced earlier bridges at the site, the earliest dating back to 1866.

Kennedy and Higgins announced the project by the bridge and the mammoth ADL grain elevator at the corner of Ohio and St. Clair streets.

Higgins, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said matching funds are coming from the Federal Highway Administration and New York State.

The money comes on top of the $5.2 million previously allocated from federal and state transportation funds.

Kennedy called the investment taking place "absolutely breathtaking."

"You go down Ohio Street and you see the apartment complexes, you see the parkland that has been rejuvenated, you see the new athletic complex that's been announced," Kennedy said. "We have one of the oldest communities in the City of Buffalo that is being lifted up by all this incredible investment happening before our very eyes."

Rick Smith, the owner of Silo City and Rigidized Metals, said that while he wasn't looking forward to having the bridge shut down for an extended time, it was an example of the positive developments happening in the Ohio Street corridor and along Buffalo's waterways.

"We've watched the good times end and the good times begin again," Smith said.

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