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Highway Removal

State Officials OK Niagara Falls Highway Teardown

Beginning at Niagara Falls State Park, you can hike around the great gorge carved out of the base of the falls over thousands of years. But you'd best arrive in a car.

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If you want to access this area from Niagara Falls neighborhoods on foot, you have to climb fences, scale embankments and race across a four-lane expressway -- the aptly named Robert Moses Parkway.

In as little as three years' time, however, this struggling town will be reconnected with the natural asset that serves as the basis for its economy. State park officials gave the thumbs-up last week to a plan to tear down a two-mile section of the Robert Moses Parkway, stretching from near downtown Niagara Falls to the town's northern neighborhoods, and possibly further, The Buffalo News reports.

Local residents have been pleading for the teardown for years, and Senator Chuck Schumer recently came out in support of the idea. The town, which has suffered disinvestment and population loss while its Canadian counterpart thrives, hopes the expansion of the park will help spur more eco-tourism. The paper reports that the state plans to replace the segment with "native plantings and a multi-use nature trail that could feature hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding and even zip-lining." It also seems likely that the highway removal will increase property values and investment in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, the debate continues about the fate of another stretch of freeway from the city's northern neighborhoods to the suburb of Lewiston. The Buffalo News reports that environmentalists are fighting to convert that portion back into forestland while the local state senator wants to turn it into a two-lane park road, matching the one in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

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