The $29 million “Riverway” project has enhanced access to the waterfront and to Niagara Falls State Park. Along the one-mile stretch mostly within the State Park, all expressway features have now been removed and are replaced with a pedestrian-friendly park road that evokes the characteristics of Frederick Law Olmsted's original design for the Riverway that historically passed through this area.
As part of the project, an elevated interchange at John B. Daly Boulevard has been removed at the entrance to the State Park—along with the earthen berm on which it sits—and replaced with a modern roundabout and signature entry feature that opened to traffic in May 2015. Other enhancements include a full path system and nature areas, as well as a new water feature evoking the former Port Day Pond, a favorite local fishing and gathering spot for residents until it was filled in 1960 to make way for the Parkway.
All of these changes now allow easier access to the Upper Niagara River and the American Rapids – where for generations were blocked by a four-lane elevated expressway. Now there are native plantings and a complete trail network to facilitate hiking, biking, fishing, cross-country skiing, accessible to all adjoining city streets for the first time in more than 50 years.
The construction contract for the Riverway project was awarded to Mark Cerrone, Inc. of Niagara Falls, New York. Construction broke ground in November 2014 and major roadwork components were completed in November 2015. Additional work and funding was required to address unanticipated contamination in the earthen berm during its removal, but this was fully remediated. The final components—an extensive landscaping program, pond feature, and trail network—was fully completed in November 2018.
The project has resulted in roughly 30 acres of park land becoming fully usable along the Upper Niagara River. In anticipation of this great resource, the adjoining Buffalo Avenue District has realized four new mixed-use hotel projects, with two additional projects now in the planning stages.
For many years, the former Robert Moses Parkway blocked views and access between downtown neighborhoods and the Upper Niagara River. The removal of a one-mile stretch of the underused expressway, south of Niagara Falls, has fully restored visual and physical access to the various natural and cultural features along the Niagara River. Through the Buffalo Billion initiative, New York State invested $1.5 million in the project’s final design phase and $10 million dollars toward the project’s construction phase.