Governor Hochul Accelerates Projects to Improve Access to Buffalo’s Waterfront
(STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul announced the acceleration of several significant projects along Buffalo’s waterfront. Advanced funding from the New York Power Authority to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation will jumpstart four major projects on the Outer Harbor and at Canalside. These projects complement recreation and transportation measures that will promote pedestrian access and continued equitable growth of the waterfront. This accelerated plan builds on more than a decade of progress spearheaded by ECHDC to restore 21 historic acres at Canalside and 200 acres on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor that has resulted in more than $300 million in new development and over 1,000 annual events.
“We’re writing Buffalo’s comeback story, and it starts with tapping into the unlimited potential of our city, including parks, infrastructure and amenities,” Governor Hochul said. “We’re going to completely transform our waterfront into a destination for everyone to enjoy, and we’re investing now to get these projects off the ground and finished earlier than expected. I thank Representative Higgins for prioritizing these projects and for his partnership to ensure that future generations of New Yorkers can enjoy all the natural beauty and recreational opportunities that our state has to offer.”
At the direction of Governor Hochul, NYPA will advance Relicensing Agreement (RA) and Industrial Incentive Award (IIA) payments to ECHDC, which otherwise would have been due over the course of nearly a decade. The NYPA Board of Trustees approved the acceleration of RA payments in March and is expected to review the acceleration of IIA payments in September. As a result, ECHDC will have access to $54.2 million this year, which will accelerate planned projects along Buffalo’s waterfront, in some cases by as much as 3 years. ECHDC has identified Wilkeson Pointe, the Bell Slip, the Gateway Building at Canalside and the Buffalo Riverwalk Feasibility Study as initial priorities for use of this funding. NYPA has previously made $72.1 million available to ECHDC in support of its project work. Over the course of the 50-year operating license for the Niagara Power Project, NYPA is providing more than $1 billion worth of benefits to Western New York.
$25 million in upgrades will also be made to Buffalo Harbor State Park with the installation of a splash pad near the existing playground and shade structures. The projects will also expand the existing playground to include four new accessible play pieces. Project renderings are available here.
Governor Hochul also announced that the $87.5 million project to reuse and reactivate the former Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&W) Trainshed is underway. The Trainshed will be a new commercial activity center on the Buffalo River waterfront with a new Metro Rail station enhancing public access to some of the region’s most popular attractions in the Canalside and Cobblestone Districts, which have transformed from blighted landscapes into premier waterfront destinations over the past decade.
The first two phases will construct a Metro Rail Station in the DL&W Trainshed and extend Metro Rail service from the current terminus at Erie Canal Harbor Station into the Trainshed. Phase 1, which includes rail systems and site work, will be completed soon, with Phase 2 work on the building, structures, and mechanical/electrical/plumbing to be completed in 2024. A third phase of the project will make improvements to the core and shell of the DL&W Trainshed and other improvements necessary for private sector activity in the Trainshed. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will also construct skywalk connections to the Key Bank Center and make improvements to the Riverwalk.
The New York State Department of Transportation’s five-year Capital Plan, with funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also includes several projects to improve roadways and enhance safety along new waterfront parkways at Tifft and Louisiana Streets. This includes a $25 million investment in traffic calming to reduce speeding, installation of bike lanes and a new, shared-use path at Tifft Street. An additional $25 million investment will fund a new bridge, streetscaping and improved safety on the parkway along Louisiana Street.
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