Standing at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) DL&W Terminal overlooking the Riverline project, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins today announced they have secured over $10 million for long desired community projects to transform the landscape of transportation in Buffalo. The representatives said these projects will create jobs, reconnect previously isolated portions of Downtown Buffalo to the waterfront through a new greenway, expand bicycle access, increase electric bus infrastructure, and make the city and waterfront more accessible than ever before.
“This is BIG news for Buffalo and will revolutionize the waterfront, opening up economic potential and tapping into one of Western New York’s greatest gems: Lake Erie. Thanks to the funding we secured, Buffalo’s downtown and waterfront will finally be connected, bike paths expanded, greenways will bloom, and electric vehicle infrastructure will make the city cleaner than ever before,” said Senator Schumer. “This federal investment will help a long held community dream to make the city more vibrant, walkable, and accessible to all neighborhoods finally become a reality. I am proud to deliver this over $10 million investment to lay the foundation for a greener future for Buffalo and Western New York.”
“I am proud to have worked to secure more than $10 million in funding to build a brighter and greener future for Western New York,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This funding will help revitalize Buffalo’s waterfront and downtown, from bringing us closer to completing the Riverline to making major investments in pedestrian and bicycle trails. Buffalo is one of the great treasures of our state and this funding will help make it accessible to all.”
“This is substantial funding that moves The Riverline project, led by the Western New York Land Conservancy, into the construction phase,” said Congressman Higgins. “With more than $10 million in federal investment, we continue Buffalo’s waterfront momentum with new connections and vibrant public destinations between the Buffalo River corridor and the Old First Ward, Valley and Perry neighborhoods. These projects combined with others planned at Canalside, Masten Park, Broadway, Larkinville, Tifft & Louisiana Streets build exciting synergy for the people and economy of Western New York.”
The lawmakers explained that they secured funding for the projects as a part of the recently passed bipartisan omnibus-spending package for Fiscal Year 2022 and through the U.S. Department of Transportation Buses and Bus Facilities Program. A detailed breakdown of the projects appears below:
$900,000 for The Riverline Project
With this funding, the Riverline Project will move closer to transforming an unused, 1.5-mile, 40-acre railroad corridor into a greenway to connect Buffalo’s downtown and waterfront together. The Riverline Project is a centerpiece of waterfront revitalization in Buffalo and will finally reconnect underserved communities to the area. The representatives explained that for nearly a century, this once bustling railroad corridor was the main artery for working-class local residents to move about the city, however, now this corridor remains unused and has become a barrier dividing neighborhoods. The Riverline Project, located on land owned by the NFTA, is an effort transform this space and began in 2017, but lacked key funding to fully begin. Now thanks to the federal investment secured by Schumer, Gillibrand and Higgins in the spending package for Fiscal Year 2022, the design, development, and construction of this first phase for the project will finally be able to take form.
$1,760,000 for the NFTA Electric Bus Charging Infrastructure
This will allow the NFTA to design, install, and construct critically needed overhead vehicle charging infrastructure at the NFTA-Metro Cold Spring Bus Maintenance Facility to be able to charge 10 of the fleets electric buses. This funding, included in the spending bill through a request from Schumer and Gillibrand, builds on the previous efforts to replace the NFTA fleet with electric buses. This critical infrastructure is necessary for the NFTA to be able to procure new buses and replace extant natural gas or diesel powered transit buses.
$4,844,000 for the NFTA to Revamp Existing Bus Fleet
This funding, secured and supported by Schumer, Gillibrand, and Higgins, was made possible through a grant from the United States Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Grants for Bus and Bus Facilities Program. This program makes federal resources available to transit agencies like the NFTA to replace, rehabilitate and purchase buses and related equipment and to construct bus-related facilities including technological changes or innovations to modify low or no emission vehicles or facilities. The NFTA will be able to utilize these resources to procure new electric buses and related equipment, as well as upkeep and maintenance on the current fleet.
$2,000,000 for the NFTA DL&W Station Skybridge
This NFTA project will design and construct bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements along various public spaces near the DL&W Station and Ohio Street Corridor. Included in the omnibus bill by Schumer, Gillibrand, and Higgins, this is part of a larger plan to enhance connectivity and fully connect the area with neighboring trail networks like the Shoreline Trail, Niagara River Greenway, and Empire State Trail, as well as the Outer Harbor and Canalside/Cobblestone Districts and pedestrian access from the metro rail terminus directly to KeyBank Center via skybridge.
$1,000,000 for the NFTA Riverwalk Improvements
In addition to the Skybridge, the NFTA will also now be able to construct new bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements along various public spaces adjacent to the new NFTA-Metro Rail DL&W Station and Ohio Street Corridor following the push of Schumer, Gillibrand and Higgins
Leaders across Buffalo and Western New York praised this transformational investment:
“The $900,000 dollars provided in this year’s budget is an investment not only in the three neighborhoods around The Riverline, but in the entire Buffalo and Western New York community” said Jeffry Lebsack, Director of The Riverline. “The Riverline will connect to the Buffalo River, to Canalside, and to the Shoreline and Empire State Trails, helping to ensure equitable access to our redeveloping waterfront. These connections further our goal to be a part of a healthy, inclusive, and opportunity rich city with vibrancy in every neighborhood. These funds will help the Land Conservancy and The Riverline do what this project is designed to do: bring people to nature, nature to people, and contribute to a cohesive waterfront and downtown that the whole region can be proud to call home.”
“This is a truly transformative amount of money and will fundamentally shape the future of the NFTA,” said Kimberly Minkel, Executive Director of the NFTA. “Thanks to the tireless dedication of our congressional delegation, we are able to invest heavily in electric buses and the infrastructure needed to sustain them, revamp our existing fleet, modernize facilities, finally transform the DL&W terminal, and further the goal of making Buffalo a walkable waterfront community for all.”