After a major push from Senator Charles Schumer, the Federal Highway Administration and New York State Department of Transportation are set to unlock $1.8 million in previously secured federal funds for the City of Utica's Harbor Point Project.

Until now, Federal rules blocked Utica from using the remainder of $2.1 million that was originally earmarked for use to re-establish Water Street by connecting it to surrounding areas and making repairs to the Barnes Ave. bridge.

But, after a NYSDOT inspection it was determined that the bridge needed more extensive repairs than originally thought.

As a result, Utica decided to close the bridge and put off the project, and a new citywide master plan developed in 2011 no longer included the re-establishing of Water Street.

However, use of the remaining funds for other city projects was blocked by federal regulations.

A new law sponsored by Schumer will change the rule, giving the FHWA and NYSDOT the authority to repurpose any unspent money to newer projects, allowing Utica to use the remaining $1.8 million on its 'Pedestrianway to the Utica Harbor' project.

"For over a decade, funds that could have been spent on critical infrastructure projects in Utica have been under lock and key, guarded by federal bureaucracy," Schumer said. "This project is already a part of Utica's Master Plan, and was strongly needed to connect Downtown and Bagg's Square's growth with future development at Harbor Point. These funds were designated for the City of Utica, and I'm glad FHWA and NYSDOT heeded my call to keep every penny in Utica to be used on local projects like the Utica Harbor Pedestrianway."

The new project wold double the width of an existing sidewalk and also reconfigure an intersection near the Harbor Point Project to better handle vehicular and pedestrian/bicycle traffic, all while giving visitors access to the Rayhill trail, Downtown and Bagg's Square.