How federal, state money could supercharge Buffalo’s waterfront projects | Local News

Six months after Rep. Brian Higgins outlined a proposal to spend $ 189.5 million in infrastructure funding to supercharge redevelopment of Buffalo’s waterfront, key pieces of that plan are already falling into place.

It’s not all been Higgins’ doing, either. The new state budget, along with money Higgins obtained in the federal budget process, are combining to bring some of his suggestions to fruition.

State The state budget includes $ 50 million in combined state and federal funds to build parkways along Tifft Street and Louisiana Street, moves that Higgins sees as key to improving waterfront access for bikers as well as drivers.

State The state also set aside $ 30 million to bring back to life the long-underutilized Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Terminal at the foot of Main Street – and Higgins landed another $ 2 million in federal funding for a Skybridge to the KeyBank Center as well as 1 million for the adjacent Riverwalk.

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River The Riverline, a 1.5-mile greenway envisioned for the abandoned DL&W rail line, will get started with 900,000 in federal funding.

Ns Plans are in the works for major improvements to Buffalo Harbor State Park, although details haven’t been announced yet.

“These are all worthy projects and great news,” said Gary Hill, president of Union Concrete and Construction Corp. and a board member of Fair Apportionment of Infrastructure Revenue), a group of local business leaders and citizens that pushes for Western New York to receive its fair share of infrastructure funding.

While Hill said some major infrastructure efforts beyond the waterfront are not moving forward fast enough, things came together quickly for several of Higgins’ waterfront priorities.

To hear Higgins tell it, the funding for waterfront projects shows the confluence of last year’s 1 1.1 trillion federal infrastructure bill and the current array of state power players who hail from Buffalo: Gov. Kathy Hochul, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and State Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy, who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee.

“You know, a lot of that money in the state budget is federal money,” said Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat. “I think the most important thing is that the governor has embraced this vision and so has the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.”

The most expensive project to be announced so far involves the construction of new parkways along Tifft Street and Louisiana Street, which should begin to take shape over the next two years. Higgins likes them to the recent reconstruction of Ohio Street, which has already prompted commercial development along that previously underdeveloped corridor.

Those new parkways will feature bike lanes and pedestrian pathways alongside rebuilt roadways. Higgins termed them “very important relative to access to the developing Outer Harbor.”


The Skyway passes over Canalside on its path to the Outer Harbor.

Derek Gee / News file photo

Meanwhile, Kennedy said that after decades of neglect, the DL&W is set to take shape. “This is going to be a community asset right along the waterfront, where hundreds or thousands of people are now coming for recreational activities and social activities,” he said.

Those two new parkways and the DL&W reconstruction were among the largest projects in Higgins’ $ 189.5 million waterfront plan, along with the $ 40 million Riverline, a project that will only begin to take shape with the money Higgins won in the federal budget.

Meanwhile, Higgins is waiting on the state to announce major improvements to Buffalo Harbor State Park, which is likely to be expanded once the US Coast Guard completes its planned move from its current location at the mouth of the Buffalo River to a parcel to the south. .

“I think you’re going to see improvements in the state park that will make the new parkways even that much more important,” he said. “We want to always improve the Outer Harbor landscape to provide more destinations for people.”

Higgins also envisions big improvements just to the north, at Erie Basin Marina, where he wants to see the dated 1970s-era upgraded facilities with a pedestrian-friendly boardwalk and perhaps a new building with shops and apartments.

But that plan and others may well hinge on the state agreeing to Higgins’ proposal to send the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. 65 million from a 2005 New York State Power Authority settlement over the next two years instead of the next eight.

Hochul has not yet endorsed that plan, and her office did not respond to a request for comment. But other Albany sources said Hochul is committed to front-loading that Power Authority money just as Higgins suggested.

“I think you’re going to see future announcements, possibly about the Power Authority money and other projects,” Higgins said.

Kennedy stressed that all the new investments at Buffalo’s waterfront come on top of the creation of Canalside and a host of other projects that have taken shape since the Power Authority first started steering millions in settlement money to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. in 2005.

“The idea that Buffalo can see its greatest potential in our lifetime is becoming reality,” Kennedy said. “We’re putting strategic investments in place that are going to leverage private sector investment, creating jobs and boosting the economy. It’s all going to highlight Buffalo on an international scale as the great city that we are.”


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