A collective sigh can be heard throughout the city, just thinking about the future of Niagara Street. One of the region’s most jacked up thoroughfares is about to get a new streetscape infrastructure treatment that will look similar to what we have recently seen on parts of Main Street (thankfully not the part that extends from Canisius to University at Buffalo south campus).
For years Niagara Street has looked terrible, which is unfortunate considering its prime location near the waterfront and its gateway status to the Peace Bridge and Canada. On top of the disparaging appearance of the street, the roadway has a negative environmental impact on nearby waterways, as contaminants flow freely into the channel and river.
It was announced this week that the Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the sum of $500,000 as a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant to the City of Buffalo that will not only help to curb the amount of pollution (road salt, nutrients, oil and grease and sediment) that enters into the nearby Niagara River and Black Rock Navigation Channel, it will also bring much needed aesthetic improvements to the street (from the Peace Bridge to Scajaquada Creek – Vision Niagara). Combined with additional $500,000 funding from Empire State Development, the Buffalo Sewer Authority will be able to construct a one-mile project that will see:
- Installation of porous asphalt
- Stormwater planters
- Rain gardens
- Reduction of impervious pavements
At this point in time, it looks as if bike lanes will be dedicated on portions from about Hudson Street heading south, and sharrow markers will be placed from Hudson to Porter due to width issues.
“We applaud the USEPA and Congressman Higgins for supporting the City of Buffalo as a Great Lakes shoreline city that values and protects its fresh water resources through green infrastructure projects,” said Jill Jedlicka, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director. “The Niagara Street corridor continues toward a major transformation that will showcase Buffalo as an innovative leader in Great Lakes protection and urban waterfront revitalization.”
“Lake Erie’s health and Buffalo’s resurgence are tied together. Neither can exist without the other,” said Cameron Davis, Senior Advisor to the EPA Administrator for the Great Lakes. “This project will result in cleaner water, reduced flooding, and a more resilient shoreline in the face of climate change.”
“Through this EPA grant, the City of Buffalo will be able to use green infrastructure to prevent stormwater from carrying contamination into Lake Erie,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Green infrastructure projects make both fiscal and environmental sense, especially for communities that need to adapt to the growing effects of climate change.”
“Western New York is refocusing on the invaluable asset we have thanks to our proximity to fresh water and all around us we are experiencing economic and environmental gains as a result,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “Through continued collaboration, this project will invest in Niagara Street, creating a more attractive gateway to our city and continuing our ongoing momentum to preserve and enhance our waterfront.”