A combination of federal and state dollars has been set aside to renovate a bridge first built in 1866 and last renovated in 1962. The $10.6 million announced Friday is in addition to $5.23 million previously set aside for the Ohio Street Lift Bridge.
Renovations on the Buffalo Old First Ward span will include updates to mechanical and electrical systems to operate the lift span, replacing the bridge deck and eliminating structural deficiencies.
"The project is currently in the design phase," said Congressman Higgins. "We anticipate the construction will start in 2021."
The federal allocation comed from the Federal Highway Administration's National Highway Freight Program. In all, nearly $16 million federal and state dollars have been dedicated to the Ohio Street Bridge. State Senator Tim Kennedy says the project is transforming the neighborhood.
"You go down Ohio Street, you see the apartment complexes. You see the parkland that has been rejuvenated. You see the new athletic complex that has been announced, Riverworks across the river, and the enhancements throughout this Old First Ward neigborhood," Kennedy said. "It's absolutely breathtaking, invogorating and, quite frankly, inspiring for all of us here in Western New York."
Higgins says what these public investments have created are even larger investments in Buffalo neighborhoods from the private sector.
"If you look at Canalside, if you look at Main Street, if you look at Ohio Street, if you look at Niagara Street, every time there is a public investment of infrastructure dollars, private sector investment follows," Higgins said. "In many cases, three, four or five times that."
Joining Kennedy and Higgins was Rick Smith, owner of Rigidized Metals and creator of Silo City. He represents the third generation of his family's business and explained they have seen the neighborhood through its best and its worst times. He believes great times lie ahead. He also agrees with the argument that the public spending is working.
"It does breed investment. It does breed interest," said Smith.
The Ohio Street Lift Bridge was built in 1866 and has not undergone a large-scale reconstruction since 1962.