Western New York stakeholders and Niagara Falls officials have planned for 24 years to redevelop and convert the site surrounding the 1863 U.S. Customs House at the base of Whirlpool International Bridge into an international rail hub for the region. Now that construction on the first two phases of the Niagara Falls station is complete, Schumer is calling on the FRA to move quickly to obligate these approved funds so that Niagara Falls officials can avoid delays and meet their goal to finish construction of the new station by 2014.
A copy of Rep. Schumer's letter:
Dear Administrator Szabo:
I write today to urge the Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to work with the city of Niagara Falls to complete the final procedural steps in order to obligate the $16.5 million in TIGER II funds for the Niagara Falls Intermodal Transportation Center.
In October of 2010, DOT awarded the City of Niagara Falls TIGER II funds to complete final phase of the project to build an intermodal transportation center on the site around the 1863 U.S. Customs House at the Whirlpool International Bridge. When completed, the Niagara Falls International Railway Station and Intermodal Center Project will include a 500 foot-long high-level platform and over 26,000sq. ft. of new space and incorporate the Customhouse as a border inspection facility once again. This project not only represents the development of a rail hub and improved transportation for the region, but it also will be the catalyst for revitalization and economic development in the City of Niagara Falls.
While I understand obligating these funds is a complex process, the grant agreement has been under review for nearly 16 months. Therefore, it is critical that the FRA work with the City of Niagara Falls to overcome the final procedural hurdles to have these vital job creating funds obligated. Further delays could put the project behind schedule and put on hold the positive impacts this station will have on western New York.