11.15.21

FOLLOWING YEARS OF ADVOCACY, SCHUMER SECURES NEARLY $12 MILLION TO REVITALIZE DOWNTOWN NEW ROCHELLE; SENATOR SAYS ‘LINC’ PROJECT WILL TRANSFORM NEW ROCHELLE, BOOSTING JOBS, ECONOMY, AND REVITALIZING CITY

Memorial Highway & Unfinished I-95 Construction Bulldozed Central New Rochelle in 1958, Ripping Jobs, Services From Lincoln Ave & Surrounding Neighborhoods

Schumer Announces Funding To Convert Underused, Overbuilt Highway To Nowhere Into A Vibrant City Street; Funds Will Add Bike Paths, Enhance Walkability, And Reconnect 25,000 Residents to Downtown New Rochelle

Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant Program—Which Schumer Fought To Expand In The Just-Signed Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Act —Provides Federal Funds To Important Transportation Projects That Create Jobs & Boost Economy

Schumer: Federal Funding Will ‘LINC’ New Rochelle To Economic Opportunities For All 

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that following his direct advocacy he has secured $11,960,000 for the City of New Rochelle’s LINC: Safety, Mobility & Economic Opportunity project. Schumer, who personally spoke to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to advocate for this project during their first meeting, and subsequently raised the federal DOT funding request for this project with Secretary Buttigieg last month in a personal call, said this much-needed grant will convert Memorial Highway from a six lane highway to nowhere to a walkable, bike-able city street with open green space. Schumer explained the project would be especially vital to achieving equity in the city, as it would reconnect residents in central New Rochelle, especially in the city’s Lincoln Avenue neighborhood that has long suffered from the barriers created by the overbuilt and underutilized Memorial Highway, to community resources and job opportunities in New Rochelle’s downtown area. Funding is allocated through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program.

“Transforming this highway into a useable city street, filled with a park, bike paths, and streetscape improvements is a win-win-win for New Rochelle,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “The federal government will finally help to advance equity for New Rochelle residents while transforming a dangerous highway into a vibrant public space. In tandem with recently secured wins from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that I helped negotiate, this will drive the local economy forward, create opportunities for good paying jobs, increase access to critical services, and reconnect communities.”

Schumer added, “The pandemic has revealed the need for nature and safe outdoor transportation, like bike and walking trails, even in the heart of a city. Projects such as the ‘LINC’ will help cities like New Rochelle improve air quality and community livability, achieve equity and revitalize their regional economies. As Majority Leader, I'm proud that Secretary Buttigieg has heeded my calls to transform this highway to nowhere and prioritize this important investment in Westchester.”

Schumer explained that Memorial Highway was originally proposed to connect I-95 to the Hutchinson River and Cross County Parkways. However, only the first phase of the antiquated highway project was ever built, leaving an overabundance of infrastructure that delivers traffic from Exit 16 of 1-95 to New Rochelle’s local community roadways. In short, Memorial Highway is overbuilt, underutilized, and unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. Schumer said the current six-lane highway just stops at Lincoln Avenue, effectively a highway to nowhere. Fortunately, the funding announced today aims to tackle these problems, and will establish a holistic infrastructure system to connect key parts of central New Rochelle. This community, Schumer said, was physically, socio-economically, and psychologically separated from New Rochelle’s downtown area in 1958 when Memorial Highway bulldozed their neighborhood. The city estimates that roughly 25,000 residents currently live in the Lincoln Avenue neighborhood.

Specifically, Schumer said that the LINC will convert three roadways from two-way to one-way operations in order to accommodate the traffic that currently utilizes the relic Memorial Highway, implement new signalization at key intersections, and construct the new bike and pedestrian areas on Memorial Highway, including on the Memorial Highway Overpass from the Cedar Street (Exit 16) ramps to the roundabout on Memorial Highway. These complete street improvements and the new bicycle, pedestrian, and open space on Memorial Highway announced today will better serve the residents in the Lincoln Avenue neighborhood and promote business and economic activity in New Rochelle as a whole.

Schumer also noted the Memorial Highway is dangerous for residents and only carries a little over 16,000 motorists a day on average, but the congestion and delays have created headache after headache for residents and workers trying to access the city’s downtown area. The LINC was designed to reduce conflict between the different modes of transportation in the area. Schumer said New Rochelle has put in years of planning and building community support and now, with this new infusion of federal funding, those dreams can finally become a reality.  The ‘LINC’ project received $6 million from New York State last year as part of a $10 million package to improve downtown New Rochelle, and has had over $15.4 million in non-federal matching funds but Schumer said this massive federal funding was the final piece of the puzzle to make the project happen.

Schumer has been a staunch advocate of the LINC, strongly supporting the project for over three years. The senator has directly raised its importance with Secretary Buttigieg. First last December, before he was Transportation Secretary, and he again reiterated his support to Buttigieg in a personal call last month. Schumer explained that this funding is provided by the U.S. DOT RAISE grant program, formerly known as BUILD or TIGER, which funds transportation projects of national and regional significance. This round of RAISE Grants, funded by FY21 appropriations, awards $1 billion in funding to communities nationwide.  In the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, this program received additional funding at $7.5 billion over five years. This is on top of other transportation and highway funding programs like the INFRA (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America) grant program, that funds transportation projects with a strong connection to improving freight operations, which is funded at $3.2 billion.

Schumer said the recently passed bill also includes $13.5 billion for the highway and formula bridge funding, including $12.5 billion for a competitive bridge program that states and localities can apply to. For the first time, the bill also creates the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program which provides $1 billion in competitive grants for planning and projects to remove, retrofit, or mitigate existing highways that were built through neighborhoods and created a barrier to mobility and economic development, an effort that Schumer is working to provide billions of dollars in additional federal investment for in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill.

A copy of Schumer’s original letter to Secretary Buttigieg supporting the project appears below:

Dear Secretary Buttigieg:

Following our January meeting earlier this year, I am pleased to write in support of the grant application submitted by the City of New Rochelle to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2021 RAISE Transportation Discretionary Grants Program to construct the “LINC,” an innovative project that converts the overbuilt, underutilized and hazardous Memorial Highway into a safe, linear open space with bicycle facilities and pedestrian amenities.

As mentioned during our meeting in early January of 2021, the LINC will help to achieve equity in the City of New Rochelle by enhancing safety and multi-modal transportation options for residents, and building stronger economic linkages between the Lincoln Avenue neighborhood and New Rochelle’s burgeoning downtown. Memorial Highway was originally proposed to connect I-95 to the Hutchinson River and Cross County Parkways. However, only the first phase of the antiquated highway project was ever built, leaving an overabundance of infrastructure that delivers traffic from Exit 16 of 1-95 to New Rochelle’s local community roadways. Memorial Highway is overbuilt, underutilized, and unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. Moreover, those living in central New Rochelle, especially in the Lincoln Avenue Corridor neighborhood, have suffered because the highway has created barriers between their neighborhoods and the community resources and job opportunities in New Rochelle’s downtown area.

The LINC aims to address these issues by reinvesting in the community and its existing infrastructure to spur new economic development, promote connectivity to jobs and resources, and enhance the character of these areas to improve the overall quality of life for residents and the City at large. Specifically, the LINC will convert three roadways from two-way to one-way operations in order to accommodate the traffic that currently utilizes Memorial Highway, implement new signalization at key intersections, and construct the new pike and pedestrian areas on Memorial Highway, including on the Memorial Highway Overpass from the Cedar Street (Exit 16) ramps to the roundabout on Memorial Highway. These complete street improvements and the new bicycle, pedestrian, and open space on Memorial Highway will better serve the residents in the Lincoln Avenue neighborhood and promote business and economic activity in New Rochelle as a whole.

As you know, I’ve supported completion of the LINC for years and significant planning, community involvement, and investment in this project has already occurred. For example, in addition to contributing its own resources, New Rochelle secured $10 million from New York State in 2018 through the highly-competitive Downtown Revitalization Initiative program to implement projects that improve the Lincoln Avenue Corridor, including the LINC. However, as I mentioned during our January meeting, to improve equity and construct the best and most transformative project for this community, New Rochelle needs your partnership through this federal investment from the U.S. Department of Transportation. I applaud the City of New Rochelle for its foresight and strongly support their application.

Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions.

Sincerely,

 

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