SCHUMER JOINS WITH LOCAL OFFICIALS TO BEGIN LONG-AWAITED FILLING IN OF SUNKEN PORTION OF ROCHESTER’S INNER LOOP – REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT WILL SET STAGE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & JOB CREATION, MAKE AREA MORE PEDESTRIAN- AND BIKE-FRIENDLY; SCHUMER HELPED SECURE $16.5 MILLION IN FED FUNDS TO MAKE PROJECT A REALITY
Schumer Led the Charge to Secure $16.5 Million in Funding for Fed DOT to Fill-In Sunken Southeast Section of Inner Loop Expressway, Which Has Been a Barrier To Economic Development in Downtown Rochester for Decades
Schumer Pushed The Inner Loop Project With Two Different Secretaries of Transportation – Senator Made In-Person Appeals to Secs. LaHood & Foxx; Without Fed Support, Project Would Have Remained On the Drawing Board
Schumer: If You Fill It, They Will Come
Today, at the Corner of Howell Street and South Union Street at Rochester’s Inner Loop, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer joined with local Rochester officials and developers to celebrate the first “filling in” of the City of Rochester’s Inner Loop at the southeast section of the expressway. Schumer explained that the Inner Loop Expressway is an underutilized and deteriorating highway that has isolated Rochester’s downtown from the rest of the City and its vibrant neighborhoods nearby, which has created an impediment to economic activity and business development in the area for nearly 50 years. After today’s ceremonial filling-in, the project, which will remove the southeast section of this obstructive, 12-lane wide section of the Inner Loop and replace it with a new, high-quality city boulevard and open up six acres for new prime real-estate development, will now begin. Schumer has long fought to secure funding to make this high-priority Rochester redevelopment project a reality. Since 2011, he has led the push to secure millions in federal Department of Transportation (DOT) funds to make the Inner Loop project possible. Schumer noted that he made in-person appeals about this project to two different Secretaries of Transportation.
Schumer said that, due to the Inner Loop’s placement and width, it has served as a physical and psychological barrier to Rochester’s downtown for years, impeding everything from foot traffic to cyclists, and discouraging business development in the area. In addition, the Inner Loop and its frontage roads separate the downtown from adjacent thriving neighborhoods, like the Neighborhood of the Arts, Upper East End, Park Avenue and Monroe Village, which would be economic assets to the downtown if better connected. Now, the city will begin to remove the deteriorated section of the Inner Loop and replace it with an at-grade boulevard, which will open land to mixed-use redevelopment, make the area more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, and begin to reconnect these previously detached neighborhoods to develop infrastructure better suited for private sector investment.
“Today we begin to fulfill a dream that has been decades in the making -- filling in the eastern end of the Inner Loop. For the residents, businesses, and would-be downtown investors who have long pushed to remove this moat that has divided downtown from the rest of the City’s vibrant East End, this day could not have come soon enough,” said Schumer. “I am pleased to have played a major role in securing the $16.5 million federal transportation grant that helped make this dream a reality once and for all. Removing this 12-lane sunken no-man’s-land will remove a concrete obstacle to development and, in its place, reconnect the City and open up six acres for new development in the heart of Rochester’s arts and entertainment district. Simply put: If we fill it, they will come.”
Schumer has long fought to secure funding to make this high-priority Rochester redevelopment project a reality. Since 2011, he has led the push to secure millions in federal Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) funds to make the Inner Loop project possible. In 2011, Schumer stood with then-Rochester Mayor Tom Richards and several business leaders and developers to announce his push to then-USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood to secure TIGER grant funding, without which the project would remain on the drawing board. Schumer worked with LaHood to set up meetings between the City of Rochester and technical experts at the USDOT to assist the City prepare its TIGER grant application.
In 2013, Schumer wrote to Transportation Secretary Foxx to push for his swift approval of these TIGER funds for Rochester’s Inner Loop project. Then, after personally meeting with Secretary Foxx to push him to approve this funding, Schumer announced that Rochester would receive $16.5 million—more than 75 percent of the $21 million total project cost—to get the Inner Loop project underway. The overall project will fill in the southeast section of the below-grade sunken Inner Loop that now isolates Rochester’s downtown from the rest of the City and its vibrant nearby neighborhoods. Schumer said that, currently, this section of the Inner Loop functions like a moat that isolates and impedes economic activity and business development in downtown Rochester. This project will remove this obstructive, 12-lane wide section of the Inner Loop Expressway, and replace it with a new 2-3-lane at-grade city boulevard with a dedicated bicycle lane. With the Inner Loop gone, Schumer said the city can begin to restore some of the original neighborhood street grid so residents and visitors can easily move around and not be blocked by the Inner Loop.
Schumer said that for decades the Inner Loop has acted like a concrete noose around downtown Rochester, keeping businesses, residents, shoppers and investments alike out of downtown and strangling economic development. But now, the project will open up six acres for new prime real-estate development, creating up to a thousand local jobs and 230 construction jobs.
The Inner Loop Expressway was built in the 1960s, and due to its placement and width has created a major division between downtown Rochester and the rest of the City. In addition, the southeast part of the Inner Loop Expressway is extremely underutilized and costly to maintain, and it is abundantly clear that removal of this section of the Inner Loop will not impair vehicle traffic in this area. As is, the Inner Loop serves as a physical and psychological barrier to Rochester’s downtown, impeding everything from foot traffic to bikers and discouraging business development in the region. In addition, the Inner Loop and its frontage roads separate the downtown from adjacent thriving neighborhoods, like the Neighborhood of the Arts, Upper East End, Park Avenue and Monroe Village, which would be economic assets to the downtown if better connected.
In 2011, the local metropolitan planning organization, the Genesee Transportation Council, passed a unanimous resolution making the Inner Loop East project the highest priority project in the nine-county Genesee-Finger Lakes Region. This meant s that all nine counties, as well as regional and state agencies, recognized this project as the region’s highest priority for TIGER funding. Since then, Schumer been a major supporter of the project, and has fought on behalf of the City of Rochester’s efforts to revitalize the City, and especially the Inner Loop project.
Schumer was joined by City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter; N.Y. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; N.Y. State Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald; N.Y. State Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman David Gantt; N.Y. State Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle; N.Y. State Senator Ted O’Brien; and Rochester City Council President Loretta Scott.
The TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant Program was developed to spur a national competition for innovative, multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional transportation projects that promise significant economic and environmental benefits to an entire metropolitan area, a region or the nation. Projects that typically receive TIGER grants include improvements to roads, bridges, rail, ports, transit and intermodal facilities, and Schumer noted that the City of Rochester’s plan fits squarely within the program’s mission.