Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand Secure Historic $16+ Million for New Rochelle via the Inflation Reduction Act to Connect Lincoln Avenue Neighborhoods Divided by Memorial Highway & Revitalize Downtown New Rochelle With New Lush “high-line” Style Green Space, Bike Lanes, and New Modern Safer Streets to Reconnect Community

Mar 11, 2024

Memorial Highway & Unfinished I-95 Construction Bulldozed Central New Rochelle in 1950’s, Dividing A Vibrant Community Of Color, Ripping Jobs, Services From Lincoln Ave & Surrounding Neighborhoods Leading To Systemic Inequities Felt Till This Day

Now, New Rochelle Is Among The First Cities In The Nation To Tap New Highly Competitive “Neighborhood Access & Equity Program” Created In The Inflation Reduction Act Meant To Reconnect Divided Communities And Address The Negative Legacy Of Some Highway Construction

Schumer, Gillibrand: $16M In Fed Funding Delivers The Missing Link To Reconnect Communities and Boost Downtown For New Rochelle’s Linc Project!  

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that they have secured a $16,039,888 award of highly competitive federal funding for New Rochelle’s LINC: Safety, Mobility & Economic Opportunity project. This award makes New Rochelle among the first in the nation to be tapped by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Neighborhood Access and Equity Program, which Schumer created in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), based on the work he and Gillibrand did in creating the Reconnecting Communities program in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Law.

This major federal investment will help reconnect the central New Rochelle Lincoln Avenue neighborhood, which was separated from New Rochelle’s downtown area in 1958 when the construction of Memorial Highway separated the historically black neighborhood. With funding building on the $12 million federal investment Schumer delivered in 2021 to help reconnect the community by converting the six-lane Memorial Highway into a walkable and bikeable complete street with open space, greenery an open new elevated park similar to NYC’s High Line, helping increase the quality of life for surrounding residents and better connecting New Rochelle residents to economic opportunity.

“Transforming New Rochelle’s Memorial Highway and reconnecting Lincoln Avenue area neighborhoods with lush green space, bike paths, increased safety features, new modern complete streets, and new economic opportunity is another giant step closer to becoming a reality. As majority leader I said I would make sure to deliver federal funding to make this project a reality, and I am proud to deliver this major, highly competitive $16 million award to have New Rochelle lead the way as one of the very few projects selected in the country to serve as a blueprint for how we can reconnect communities that have been separated by highway construction,” said Senator Schumer. “When Memorial Highway was built it cut through the heart of New Rochelle, it fractured and bulldozed parts of a vibrant neighborhood and left scars of systemic inequality that are felt to this day. Federal policies led to the creation of the concrete walls of Memorial Highway that divided New Rochelle’s Lincoln Avenue neighborhoods and constricted downtown access, but, today the federal government is stepping up to right that historical wrong. With this funding, we are laying the foundation for the future of transportation in and mobility in New Rochelle, and putting the next generation of Lincoln Avenue families on the road to a better more equitable future.”

“The construction of highways like Memorial Highway devastated communities of color across our state,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Today, we are taking a massive step to right the wrongs of the past and build a more vibrant, livable, and equitable New Rochelle. I helped create the Reconnecting Communities Pilot and Neighborhood Access and Equity programs to support projects like this one all across our state, and I’m proud to be delivering this major $16 million grant for New Rochelle. I am committed to seeing this project through and will keep fighting to bring federal resources to Westchester to rejuvenate our neighborhoods and create economic opportunity for all.”

“We thank Senator Schumer for his commitment to New Rochelle for this incredible project that will unify our community,” said Elder Mark McLean, President of the New Rochelle NAACP. “For decades, the neighbors of Lincoln Avenue were separated in the name of a misguided project that was done under the guise of progress. Unfortunately, that progress happened at the expense of black neighbors and frayed the fabric of the larger community. Thanks to this funding, we can make real progress by reunifying this community so we can collectively work towards a brighter and more inclusive future.”

“We are thrilled to be the recipient of this very prestigious grant,” said New Rochelle Mayor Yadira Ramos-Herbert. “This very generous resource will allow us to create a once in a generation community space that prioritizes green infrastructure and space to incubate black owned businesses. We thank Senator Schumer for his tireless advocacy on behalf of New Rochelle residents and all New Yorkers”

Schumer, advocated for years to deliver federal funding to New Rochelle for this project, and personally spoke to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to advocate multiple times for this project—starting from their first meeting in December of 2020 before he was in office and many times since on the importance of converting Memorial Highway from a six-lane highway to nowhere to a vibrant walkable, bike-able city street with open green space. In 2021, Schumer delivered a nearly $12 million RAISE grant to jumpstart the long-desired project and today’s major funding will work in concert with that funding to help make this project a reality. 

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. The current six-lane highway just stops at Lincoln Avenue, effectively making it a highway to nowhere that damages the community and exacerbates systemic inequalities. 

Today’s $16 million in federal funding will support the overall LINC project to help reconnect the community with modern complete streets, 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 will help transform a burden on the community with a unique green asset; enhance safety, and build stronger economic linkages between the Lincoln Avenue corridor and the employment and transit assets of the burgeoning downtown, helping achieve equity across New Rochelle. In addition, the project will improve flood mitigation and storm resiliency by improving drainage along roadways in the area which is prone to flash flooding.

This major award is the culmination of years of work by Schumer and Gillibrand. As majority leader, Schumer led the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act to passage with projects like New Rochelle’s at the top of mind. After introducing the Reconnecting Communities Act in the Senate, Schumer and Gillibrand created and delivered the Reconnecting Communities Program in the bipartisan Infrastructure Law to remove barriers like old highways and create more connected communities.

At Schumer’s urging when negotiating the Inflation Reduction Act, he was able to create the Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program – a program similar to Reconnecting Communities – funded at $3.2 billion. Today’s funding comes from this program and is a direct result of Schumer’s efforts to increase funding for reconnecting communities’ initiatives in the IRA so that places like New Rochelle could have the robust federal resources they need to make these transformational projects a reality.

New Rochelle finalized schematic designs and detailed plans for the park elements of the LINC project this past year. New Rochelle expects the completed design and environmental review to be completed in the next year and construction to begin in 2025.