Another piece of the waterfront puzzle is complete. Empire State Development (ESD), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper (BNW) have announced the completion of the $2 million Buffalo Blueway Public Access Project at DEC Ohio Street site.
For years, this access site was one of the only places along the city’s waterfront where someone could launch a canoe or kayak. At the same time, it was not the friendliest place to launch, considering its unkempt appearance and lack of amenities. But now, that has all changed. Today it stands proud, as part of the ongoing Buffalo Blueway project – a project that intends to connect numerous access points along the waterfront.
It took just five months to complete this project, which just goes to show that we can achieve greatness in relatively short periods of time, when we put our minds to it. BNW worked with its contractor, Scott Lawn Yard, to push the project along. Design partners on the project include Anchor QEA, Watts Engineering, and Edgewater Resources. The site is intended for use as follows:
- Car-top Boat Launch: Improved boat launch features carry-in, car-top fishing boat access and paddle craft launching with timber guiderails.
- Wheelchair Accessible Fishing Pier: Pedestrian promenade/walkway and fixed pier overlook platform provides universal access to the river.
- North Path: Now provides pedestrian connections to Ohio Street and the Shoreline Trail while evoking the former rail line.
- Debris Deflection: Two newly installed floating deflectors will help mitigate wave forces and deflect floating debris and flowing ice away from the shoreline and boat launch.
- Central Dropoff: New vehicular and pedestrian traffic pattern allows for more efficient launching.
- Parking: Upgrades to parking area pavements and pathways allow for improved public access.
“This new Buffalo Blueway site improves equitable access to Western New York’s greatest asset – its waterfront – and I want to thank Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper for their continued leadership and partnership to get these projects completed, as well as the state DEC for its collaboration on this Ohio Street site,” said Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis. “This is just the latest example of how Buffalo Blueway public access projects are increasing recreation and tourism to the area while enhancing the region’s waterfront.”
“DEC is excited to reopen the Buffalo River – Ohio Street Fishing Access site today to further enhance the newly revitalized Buffalo River corridor,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Once an abandoned railroad property, this now popular recreational spot now draws anglers and outdoors enthusiasts of all ages. Working with our project partners, DEC is pleased to announce today our latest efforts to improve access to the river for anglers, boaters, and kayakers, and restore shoreline habitat for fish and wildlife.”
“Our vision for the Buffalo Blueway is becoming a reality, with enhanced public access for everyone to enjoy their waterfront and the Buffalo River,” said Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka. “For the first three decades of our existence, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper worked tirelessly to lead the cleanup partnership efforts that resulted in a once-dead Buffalo River becoming a thriving, vibrant ecosystem that is now being activated with recreational activity from locals and tourists alike. Supporting the growth of the region’s sustainable blue economy continues to be a goal of our ongoing environmental restoration work, and by offering universal access to our waterways through the Blueway system, these kinds of projects will continue to accelerate economic activity for our entire waterfront.”
Senator Sean Ryan said, “The Buffalo Blueway project has been a boon to our continuing efforts to make Buffalo’s waterfront more accessible to the residents of Western New York. By improving public access to the Buffalo River, the enhancements at the Ohio Street site will help highlight our area’s exemplary fishing and promote economic growth along the city’s waterfront.”
Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, “The new and improved Buffalo River access point at Ohio Street — part of the Buffalo Blueway project — will allow residents of all ages greater accessibility and expanded usage of the city’s most treasured asset. Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has worked relentlessly to restore the natural ecosystems of our waterways, and in doing so, has invaluably added to our region’s eco-tourism sector. As the Blueway system continues to provide increased access to Buffalo’s waterfront, our city’s economy and its environmental sustainability are set to reap the benefits.”
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “The Buffalo River waterfront is taking a big step forward with the completion of the Buffalo Blueway Public Access Project on Ohio Street, which improves accessibility for fishing, kayaking, and other types of waterfront recreation. Completed in just five months, this project will add to the area’s vitality for years to come.”
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W Brown said, “Activity on Buffalo’s waterways is now a common sight and I thank Empire State Development, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper for adding to the network of public access points as part of the Buffalo Blueway Project. This $2 million investment at the DEC-owned site at Ohio Street complements an $11 million investment that transformed this roadway into a riverfront parkway. It’s also great news for paddlers, anglers and others, and another positive example of why investing in our environmental and recreational assets will help spur additional economic development.”