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Parkway removal is affordable

Niagara Gazette, 4 July 2000


The Niagara Heritage Partnership advocates the complete removal of the Robert Moses Parkway from Niagara Falls to Lewiston.  We want to clear up several misperceptions about our proposal. 


The first misperception is that removal would be extremely expensive, ranging from $60 to $80 million.  These figures are preposterous.


Niagara Heritage Partnership received two informal estimates and the figure we’ve been mentioning, $2 million, is actually the higher of the two.  We rounded it off in the following way: The estimate was $75,000 per lane mile.  That’s a single lane of concrete a mile long.  Since the parkway is four lanes of concrete, the cost would be $300,000 per mile.  Subtracting the lanes that run over the power plant (one mile) leaves 5.5 miles to be removed, which comes to $1,650,000.


We were told bridge removal is an extra $50,000.  That leaves $300,000 for exit and entrance ramp redesign and construction and for the reconfiguration of Findlay Drive for vehicle access into Whirlpool Park.  These necessary construction projects would undoubtedly be more than $300,000, but even tripling or quadrupling that wouldn’t come close to some of the figures being irresponsibly bandied about.


We were also told the estimate included the roadbed itself, the gravel beneath, and the curbstones.  Disposal would be the responsibility of the company doing the removal and so it would become the owner of a huge amount of recyclable product.  The underlying gravel and curbstones would be ready to use for other jobs; the broken pieces of concrete roadbed could be run through a stone crusher to become an aggregate with potential for reuse.  Other potential uses include that of fill, lake shore stabilization, or artificial reef building for Lake Ontario or upper river fisheries.  Thus “where to put all that concrete” isn’t an actual problem


If the parkway is retained, its eventual replacement will still require dealing with old concrete.  It is in very bad condition now and will soon be half a century old, which suggests replacement might not be that far away.  Where will we put all the concrete then? 


Another misperception is reflected in the idea that people should stop thinking about the parkway and start thinking about fixing potholes and repaving the streets of Niagara Falls, New York.  This charge has been most often leveled at Niagara Falls councilmen, D’Angelo in particular, as if funds for parkway removal and restoration are coming from the city budget.  While we all appreciate the absence of potholes, fixing them is one of those “small dreams” NHP spoke of at the public meeting at the Earl W. Brydges Library on February 29, 2000.


We’d guess street repair is on D’Angelo’s list, but his vision for the Waterfront Revitalization goes beyond that to a tax base so strengthened that potholes become legend.  You’d have to explain to young children, if someone said the work in front of them, what a pothole was.


The Waterfront Revitalization Task Force, incidentally, of which D’Angelo is a member, has not been advocating parkway removal.  The Niagara Heritage Partnership, of which he is not a member, is the organization proposing removal and restoration.


The most likely funding sources for this would be money already allocated on the state or federal level for environmental restoration projects.  This money cannot be shifted into pothole repair for the city of Niagara Falls.  Niagara Heritage Partnership believes, however, that parkway removal and the restoration of natural landscapes with hiking and bicycling trails would be an important element to the revitalization of Main Street.


This revitalization would be accomplished with investment from the private sector, arising from a redirected tourism market.  Additional details are available in remarks to Niagara business associations at It is the hope of the Niagara Heritage Partnership that, based on additional information, those against removal and restoration might reconsider and decide to direct their creative energies and abilities toward what is environmentally and economically best for our region.


Bob Baxter, Ransomville, New York


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Niagara Heritage Partnership

MPO Box 1495

Niagara Falls, New York 14302-1723