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LISTEN ON DEMAND: THIS AMERICAN LIFE tribute to the 10 killed in the Tops Market shootings.

Final design concepts for Buffalo's Riverline unveiled

A cement pedestrian bridge surrounded by green trees overhangs the Niagara River, as boaters pass by in the river.
Western New York Land Conservancy
The Half Bridge overlook soars over the Niagara River as an anchor to the city's industrial heritage.

The final design concepts for Buffalo's Riverline were unveiled Monday. The long-gestating project would transform 1 1/2 miles of unused railroad corridor — stretching from the abandoned DL&W Terminal to the Tesla Factory at RiverBend — into an urban nature trail.

The Western New York Land Conversancy’s final proposal for the Riverline offers walking, bicycling and winter activities like snowshoeing and sledding. It would also connect trails that go to Canalside and the Outer Harbor.

A map of the Riverline project and its components
Western New York Land Conservancy
This map details all the activities that will be part of Riverline.

The Land Conservancy’s executive director, Nancy Smith, said equity was a focus of the design.

“So the Riverline cuts through three historically divided neighborhoods," Smith said. "So the Valley and the First Ward and the Perry neighborhoods have historically had challenges interfacing with one another. And so our goal is to connect people with nature, but to connect people with one another. So how can you make it a vibrant, beautiful space that is also welcoming and safe for everyone?”

It’s estimated the project will cost anywhere from $20-$50 million. Organizers are also looking to build an endowment fund to maintain it into the future. If funding is secured, the first phase of construction could begin as soon as the end of 2022.

Western New York Land Conservancy
The Alabama Street Crossing includes a pedestrian bridge above the street and a cycle track at street level.

Tom Dinki joined WBFO in August 2019 to cover issues affecting older adults.