City of Rochester
(Monday, November 17, 2014) – Mayor Lovely A. Warren hosted a “First Fill Ceremony” today to mark the start of the construction phase of the Inner Loop East Transformation Project, which will convert a stretch of the sunken expressway into a vibrant urban boulevard.
“For more than four decades, the Inner Loop has been a physical and psychological barrier that separated Rochester’s residential neighborhoods from the region’s center of culture, commerce and government,” said Mayor Warren. “Thankfully, today we are removing a significant portion of that barrier.”
Joining Mayor Warren at the ceremony were U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter; N.Y. State Dept. of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald; N.Y. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; N.Y. State Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle; N.Y. State Assemblyman David Gantt, Chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee; N.Y. State Senator Ted O’Brien; City Council President Loretta Scott and City Councilmembers Elaine Spaull and Michael Patterson.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said, “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. I am pleased to have played a major role in securing the over $16 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.”
“In April of 2004—10 years ago—I stood on East Avenue over the Inner Loop to announce the first $2.4 million dollar investment to redevelop, realign and reconnect Rochester by filling in the Inner Loop,” said Rep. Slaughter. “After working with the Johnson, Duffy and Richards’ administrations over the last decade, I was able to secure one of the largest federal transportation grants in the nation last year to get the job done. This project has the potential to create thousands of jobs while opening up over nine acres for economic development and reconnecting areas of our city that have been cut off from downtown for far too long. This is an exciting day for Rochester, and I’m proud to see that all of this hard work will be coming to fruition in the coming months.”
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said, “For too many years, Rochester’s Inner Loop has hindered local economic development and job creation by serving as a barrier between the city’s central business district and the adjacent vibrant residential neighborhoods. This year, New York State was pleased to step up to the plate and deliver the funding needed for construction to begin on this major project that will help build on the renewal and revitalization we have seen in Rochester over the past years. Congratulations to Mayor Warren, and the local and federal partners who have put so much work into seeing this project get off the ground, making today a great day for the City of Rochester.”
“Coming from a city that was forced to take on what is perhaps the most massive reconstruction project in human history, I know how important a strong, efficient infrastructure is to economic revitalization and to improving the quality of life in every community,” said N.Y. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “The Inner Loop reconstruction is another step in the evolution of the 21st Century Rochester. We in the New York State Assembly, with the leadership of our Rochester delegation, are proud to support this project to improve transportation, reconnect Downtown with surrounding neighborhoods and create open space that can be used for recreational and commercial purposes.”
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said, “Through the leadership of Governor Cuomo, we are working closely with all levels of government to take advantage of economic development opportunities that will provide benefit to New York’s local communities. Congratulations to Mayor Warren and everyone here for thinking outside the box to create a project that will connect neighborhoods with Center City, provide accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists and drive the type of development that will create new jobs.”
“Thanks to the hard work of Mayor Lovely Warren and support from the state and federal governments, the revitalization of Downtown Rochester is taking another huge step forward,” said Assemblyman Gantt. “Increasing economic activity to Downtown Rochester is essential to strengthening our city as a whole.”
Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “Today marks yet another exciting step forward toward realizing our vision for Downtown’s revitalization. The Inner Loop East Transformational Project will breathe new life into our city by reconnecting our neighborhoods and expanding opportunities for economic growth. I am grateful to Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Slaughter, my colleagues in Albany and all of our local partners who have worked so hard to ensure a bright future for Rochester.”
“It is an historic moment for the City of Rochester to see neighborhoods that were torn apart in the 1960s finally reunited,” said Senator Ted O'Brien. “I am deeply optimistic about the new opportunities for redevelopment, re-neighboring and restoration that filling the Inner Loop will create, and I am sincerely grateful for the efforts of community leaders and elected officials at every level of government who have brought this needed change to our city.”
“I am honored to be a part of this ceremonial first fill,” said City Council President Loretta C. Scott. “The legislation for this funding originally went through the Jobs, Parks and Public Works Committee under my Chairmanship and to see us here today -- moving this project forward -- is an exciting milestone for our entire community. For too long, the Inner Loop has created a physical divide in our city and this is the first step in eliminating that barrier. I look forward to when we are here again to celebrate the completion of this project and to see the positive transformation that it will have on Rochester.”
The Inner Loop East Transformation Project will eliminate a 2/3-mile segment of the Inner Loop Expressway between Monroe Avenue and Charlotte Street and replace it with a “complete street,” which is designed to accommodate a wide range of users in an urban environment.
The new streetscape will increase traffic safety, reconnect neighborhoods with the Center City and increase the potential for economic activity in one of the city’s most sought after commercial areas. Reclaiming this land will create roughly six acres of developable land, increase local tax revenues, create jobs, generate private investment and reduce the City’s highway maintenance costs by about $1 million a year.
Construction will begin Nov. 21 and is expected to be complete in 2017. Catco Construction has been selected to complete the construction project; Stantec will provide inspection and engineering services.
The proposal to remove this section of the Inner Loop dates back to the City’s Vision 2000 Plan, completed in 1991 under the administration of Mayor Thomas P. Ryan, Jr. The project has been in varying phases of study, planning and design since 2006. The start of construction represents the collaborative effort of federal, state and local leaders who worked in unison to secure federal and state funding and regulatory approval.
The project will cost $21 million, with $16.5 million coming from the federal government, $4.1 million coming from the state government and $400,000 from the City. A $2.4 million federal grant awarded in 2006 for design positioned the project to ultimately receive a Federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to fund the construction.
In October, the project was awarded the Upstate New York Transportation Project of the Year by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). The award recognized the cooperation and coordination among the many agencies and organizations that were involved in making this project a success.
“We would not be here today if it were not for the tremendous work of past mayors and our representatives in Washington and Albany,” said Mayor Warren. “The citizens of Rochester are truly fortunate to have such dedicated and committed advocates working on their behalf.”
For more information about the project, visit www.cityofrochester.gov/InnerLoopEast or contact City Engineer Jim McIntosh at 428-6828.
News Media: For more information, contact Press Officer Jessica Alaimo at 428-7135.