Schumer pushes for Inner Loop project

By THOMAS ADAMS - 10/25/2011 3:45:05 PM

The proposed removal of the Inner Loop on the east side has another supporter and at least one opponent, with Sen. Charles Schumer urging federal officials Tuesday to award $15 million in funding and City Council candidate Alex White blasting the idea.

The city of Rochester plans to submit its funding application this week to the U.S. Department of Transportation, and would contribute $5 million to the $21.9 million initiative.

The federal funding would come from the third round of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery discretionary grants program, created as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“Replacing this section of the Inner Loop with an at-grade boulevard helps us build a city that encourages walking and biking and enjoying the outdoor environment,” Mayor Thomas Richards said.

Plans call for a southeast section of the Inner Loop to be deconstructed and filled in. It would remove what many call a barrier between two of the city’s more vibrant areas, and create nine acres of land for development.

“The city of Rochester has put together an incredibly well-developed plan to remove that obstacle to growth and economic development, and I am urging the Department of Transportation to accept the city’s application for this TIGER grant,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said during a morning news conference at the site.

Schumer is sending a letter to DOT Secretary Raymond LaHood to lobby for the funding.

White, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor in a March 29 special election against Richards and William Johnson Jr., opposes the idea.

“This is a recipe for blight,” White said in a statement Tuesday. “Perhaps my biggest problem is that our downtown is already riddled with vacancies.

“There are half-empty buildings everywhere you look, and we will soon have nine acres of shovel-ready space where Midtown (Plaza) once stood and no solid leads to develop that space. Creating another vast stretch of vacant space seems to be inviting problems, as these spaces may remain undeveloped for years.”

White is the Green Party candidate for the South District seat on City Council.

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