Reps Say Funding Must Go Out ASAP, Turning Highway To Nowhere Into A Vibrant City Street; Project Will Bring Equity To City, Boost Accessibility, Jobs; Adding Bike Paths, Enhance Walkability, And Reconnect 25,000 Residents to Downtown New Rochelle
Schumer, Bowman To Feds: Get $$$ Out ASAP & Finally ‘LINC’ NewRo To Endless Economic Potential
New Rochelle — Surrounded by Lincoln Avenue community leaders, advocates, and residents who have been directly impacted by the construction of Memorial Highway, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Monday, November 22nd urged the federal government to get the $11,960,000, which they worked directly to secure for the City of New Rochelle’s LINC: Safety, Mobility & Economic Opportunity project, out ASAP to begin work on this long overdue project to address historic inequities in the city. Schumer and Bowman said the LINC project will transform the city and boost opportunities for the Lincoln Avenue Corridor and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Black Westchester caught up to Sen. Schumer to get a couple words over the phone (listen below).
The lawmakers were joined by Minister Mark McLean – New Rochelle Branch NAACP President, Dan Bonnet – New Rochelle Community Action Program Executive Director, Rev. Allen Paul Weaver III – Assistant Pastor of the Bethesda Baptist Church, Angela Davis-Farrish – New Rochelle Municipal Housing Authority Executive Director, Nate Adams, interim CEO of the New Rochelle Boys and Girls Club, Paul Anthony Presendieu, Chairperson of the New Rochelle Environment and Natural Resources Advisory Committee, and other community leaders.
Schumer, who advocated for this award for over three years, also personally spoke to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to advocate multiple times for this project—both during their first meeting in December of 2020 before he was in office and subsequently twice last month 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.
“It’s long-past time to right the wrong of decades ago: unite divided communities, bring social and economic justice to New Rochelle, and unlock the City’s full potential,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “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. The federal government must get this money out immediately, making this long overdue investment and finally help to advance equity for New Rochelle residents by transforming a dangerous highway into a vibrant public space and connecting residents to new opportunities. This, along with the millions in wins from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that I helped negotiate in the Senate, will drive the New Rochelle economy forward, create opportunities for good paying jobs, increase access to critical services, and reconnect communities. As Majority Leader, I’m proud that Secretary Buttigieg has heeded my calls to transform this highway to nowhere, prioritizing this important investment in Westchester. Now, let’s get shovels in the ground and unlock New Rochelle’s potential.”
“Making our communities safer and conducive for both transit and leisure activities is always a goal of mine,” Congressman Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) shared with BW. “The New Rochelle LINC project will be pivotal in our work to reduce traffic between the Lincoln Avenue corridor and downtown New Rochelle. I advocated for funds to complete this project in an early version of the infrastructure package, and supported the City of New Rochelle’s RAISE Grant along with Senator Chuck Schumer. I look forward to working with elected officials at every level of government to bring even more federal funds into our state and New York’s 16th Congressional District. This project is a necessary start to support that effort and addresses some of the critical infrastructure needs right here in our backyard.”
The representatives explained the project would be especially vital to achieving equity in the city, as it would reconnect an underserved and predominantly community of color in central New Rochelle to community resources and job opportunities in New Rochelle’s downtown area, including making vital access to the downtown train station more accessible.
“We are tremendously grateful to Senator Schumer for bringing our vision directly to Secretary Buttigieg several times as a champion of this project from the beginning and we also thank Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Bowman for their strong support. The federal RAISE program is highly-competitive, with only a handful of projects selected nationwide, and this $12 million award is a powerful vote of confidence in the LINC project and our community,” said Mayor Noam Bramson. “This transformational initiative will repurpose a portion of Memorial Highway into a linear park to reconnect the Lincoln Avenue neighborhood to New Rochelle’s burgeoning downtown. The LINC will create increased access to transit and employment opportunities and improve safety, while also creating an expansive new open space and recreational amenity for tens of thousands of residents. Combining our federal award with State dollars already allocated to the LINC through the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, the City is now in a position to fully implement this exciting vision.”
“I want to thank Senator Schumer for procuring funding to be invested in the African American community of New Rochelle,” Minister Mark McLean, President of NAACP New Rochelle Branch shared. “This money represents a significant investment in the quality of life for our neighborhood and community. The mark of greatness for any society is how it provides for its most vulnerable citizens. I want to thank our city, state, and national leaders for responding to the need to ensure that the African American community enjoys full participation in the development renaissance of our beloved city of New Rochelle,”
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. 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 and Bowman 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, 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.
The lawmakers 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 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.
The recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 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.
Schumer also outlined other wins for New Rochelle and Westchester in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act below:
· 89.9 billion for transit, including over $10 billion for the MTA and Metro North.
· $59 billion to upgrade rail infrastructure, including $24 billion to modernize the Northeast Corridor for projects like Penn Station Access to benefit New Rochelle and Westchester’s Sound Shore Communities.
· $937 million for NY Airports including $22 million for Westchester Airport, $150 million for LaGuardia, $294 million for JFK.
· $12.7 billion for Westchester’s Bee-Line public bus system.
· The region will also receive a sizable portion of the billions devoted for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds, including a $15 billion carve out within the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to help replace lead pipes.
· New local hire program to connect local workers, especially from disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, to high-quality construction jobs on federally funded transportation infrastructure projects.
· $65 billion nationwide to help expand access to high-speed internet and broadband.
· $1.2 billion for the Brownfields competitive grants.
· $7.5 billion to build out a national network of EV chargers.
· $3.5 billion national investment in weatherization that will reduce energy costs for families.