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Funding in place for Ohio Street transformation

Chris Caya/WBFO News

More improvements are on the way along Buffalo's waterfront as the city is moving forward with the $11.3 million reconstruction of Ohio Street.

The Common Council has approved the project and Mayor Byron Brown says bids will go out in July. Plans include turning the mile-and-a-half industrial stretch between Michigan Avenue and Furhmann Boulevard into a tree-lined parkway.

"Ohio Street will become one of the most complete streets in the City of Buffalo with vehicular access, with industrial access points, with bike routes [and] with pedestrian walkways, really creating a beautiful parkway-like setting," Brown says.

The city is spending just over $1 million on the project. Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is providing just over $2 million. The bulk, just over $8 million, is coming from Washington at the prodding of Rep. Brian Higgins.

"There's been a preoccupation in Buffalo about bridges. The Peace Bridge, waterfront bridges, the Michigan Street Bridge. This has been sitting right in front of us. And this, if you will, is the land bridge. The land bridge that connects the more densely developed downtown Buffalo and Canalside with the Outer Harbor," Higgins says.

Mayor Brown says the goal of the project is to attract more private-sector investment while maintaining a park-like setting with green space and accessibility to the water's edge. The road will link the inner and outer harbors.

The transformation of Ohio Street, Brown says, will include working with owners of abandoned and run-down properties.

Credit Chris Caya/WBFO News
Mayor Brown and Rep. Higgins detailed plans to convert the industrial stretch into a user-friendly parkway.

"Like we do in other areas of the city, where investments are being made, we're going to expect people to maintain their property up to city code standards," Brown says.

The mayor says construction is expected to start in the fall and should be wrapped up by the summer of 2015.