FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2008
Schumer Tours Site and Demands Feds Quit Holding Funding Hostage for Jamestown Train Station & Riverwalk Connector Project; Urges Feds to Pick Lead Agency So City Can Finally Receive Dollars and Put Shovels in the Ground on Long-Stalled Project
With the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) dragging their heels in deciding who will be the lead agent for two inter-related, vital economic development projects in the City of Jamestown, today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer demanded that the two agencies immediately deliver a decision to the city so the funding for this vital project can be released. Currently, the federal agencies see the initiatives as two separate projects—the Riverwalk Connector under the FHWA and the Gateway Station under the FTA. As a result, the City would have to pay a local share to both federal agencies, doubling the amount they would be responsible for.
To save the local government from spending unnecessary dollars, the City of Jamestown has asked that the two inter-related projects be combined into one under the FTA. However, despite repeated promises to deliver an answer, the agencies have continued to stall, leaving the City of Jamestown in financial limbo as they await funding.
Schumer today, joined by Mayor Sam Teresi and Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation Executive Director Lee Harkness, demanded that FTA and FHWA combine the two projects into one under the FTA, saving the city hundreds of thousands in unnecessary local matches and ensuring the project can finally move forward.
“This is a classic case of bureaucratic red tape putting a stranglehold on the progress of two terrific local projects that will power economic growth and give tourists and local residents alike a new attraction in the heart of downtown Jamestown,” said Senator Schumer. “The Gateway Station and the Riverwalk Connector are naturally integrated and it only makes sense for them to be combined into one project. Today we’re demanding that the FTA and FHWA quit twiddling their thumbs and approve this decision so the city can save money and put the shovels in the ground to get construction underway.”
The City of Jamestown currently has plans for a Jamestown Gateway Station Intermodal and Visitors Center and for a Riverwalk Connector Trail. The two projects are designed to work in tandem and would fuel the long-awaited revitalization of the vacant Erie Lackawanna Railroad Station, an Art Deco landmark vacant since 1973, and reconnect the station to the Riverwalk Connector Trail now underway along the Chadakoin River, by a new pedestrian bridge over the downtown rail corridor.
In 2005, Schumer secured funding for both these projects, but since then they’ve been stalled as the City waits for the FTA and the FHWA to decide whether or not the two projects will be combined and placed under the sole oversight of the FTA.
Currently, the federal agencies see the initiatives as two separate projects—the Riverwalk Connector under the FHWA and the Gateway Station under the FTA. As a result, the City would have to pay a local share to both federal agencies, doubling the amount they would be responsible for. It’s estimated it would cost the city an additional $XXX if the projects stayed separated.
“We need the FTA and FHWA to knock-off this bureaucratic nonsense so that Jamestown can move ahead and kick start this essential project that will lure tourists to the region,” added Schumer.
Today, Schumer sent a letter to the FHA and FHWA demanding that the federal agencies combine the two projects into one under the FTA, saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars and ensuring the project can finally move forward.
Schumer earlier this year wrote a personal letter to FTA Administrator James S. Simpson, urging him to expedite approval of the City of Jamestown’s application for certified grantee status so the project can finally get underway. Because the City of Jamestown lacks a certified agency, such as a regional transit authority, to receive these federal funds, they must apply for grantee status through the FTA, a complex process that can take months.
In 2005, Schumer helped secure $2.6 million for the City of Jamestown in the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill, entitled the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). These funds are to be used for the Jamestown Gateway Station Intermodal and Visitors Center project and the completion of the Jamestown Riverwalk Connector Trail.