Our long-planned traffic and streetscape improvements on North Avenue had been on hold while the State Department of Transportation processed a $1 million federal grant from Congresswoman Nita Lowey designated for the work. In June, we finally received the State’s authorization to draw down the funds and proceed. Combined with additional contributions from the County and Iona College, these funds will make it possible for the City to improve traffic flow by widening sections of North Avenue in the so-called "College District," while also introducing attractive street trees, pedestrian-scaled lamps, and trash receptacles. In addition, overhead utility wires will be buried. The overall effect should be dramatic. I am hoping ­ and will push vigorously for ­ a Spring start for construction.

Meanwhile, the City has begun to focus on other portions of North Avenue, specifically the "Transportation District" in the vicinity of the new transit center. Our draft Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) budget for 2005 sets aside $600,000 for streetscape improvements in this area. We expect to continue allocating funds (and applying for grants) so that the entirety of the corridor can be upgraded on a phased basis.