Anyone looking to get from the Inner to the Outer Harbor at this point, via any route other than The Skyway, will find it a bit frustrating right now. That’s because work is underway to reconstruct an Ohio Street corridor that will ultimately link the harbors in an attractive, somewhat efficient way. Not to say that this route did not exist before, it’s just that the infrastructure was extremely dated. Thankfully, that’s all about to change. Proponents of the old First Ward and the Buffalo River have been clamoring for this type of connectivity for years. And finally the rest of the city is beginning to understand the importance of this corridor, now that the two harbors are being activated.
For those wondering about the progress of Ohio Street, the work is now 40% accomplished. “Ohio Street is moving along quickly,” said Mayor Brown, noting that Ohio Street is expected to be operational by the end of the year. “I am proud of the progress we’re seeing where in two short months the transformation of this critical corridor into a riverfront parkway is starting to take shape. That means the long term benefits of this project will start to kick in soon, as we further strengthen the Ohio Street corridor and provide an essential link between Buffalo’s inner and outer harbors.”
Once Ohio Street is reopened, it will be the most Complete Street in the city of Buffalo, with pedestrian walks, bike lanes, streetscape lighting and landscaping. The two-way parkway bounds the Buffalo River, RiverFest Park, and acts as a gateway into the old First Ward.
“Ohio Street serves as the land-bridge between the more densely populated downtown inner harbor and the outer harbor, which is currently undergoing a transformation,” said Congressman Higgins. “This project continues a ‘from the ground up’ approach that focuses on infrastructure and public friendly features to rebuild our waterfront and our city. It is also the latest tangible project representing continued momentum for Western New York.”
The only thing that is missing? During the construction project, a building foundation was removed where skateboarders frequented for over a decade. While this was done in a manner that is consistent with street infrastructure projects and aesthetic improvements, the urban skate destination was highly used by the city’s youth who were some of the pioneers of this neighborhood. It would have been very cool to see the City put in some street-style skate features for the skaters, that appear to be utilitarian to most people, but skaters would be able to identify that they were placed there to be interacted with (a separate, small concrete path with seamless benches, ramps, small rolling hills, banks… even a couple of rails). To most people these would be interesting design elements. To skaters it would say, “Thanks for helping to lead the way, we didn’t want to cut you out of the picture.”
Funding for the project:
Federal Highway Administration Funds 8,152,000
NYPA Federal Relicensing Settlement through ECHDC 2,038,000
City of Buffalo 1,200,000
GRAND TOTAL $11,390,000