Niagara Falls | Robert Moses Parkway

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History and Context

Stretching approximately 18 miles, the Robert Moses Parkway (renamed as the Niagara Scenic Parkway in 2016) stands as a barrier between the City of Niagara Falls and one of the world’s most tremendous natural assets. Built in the 1960's to serve industries along the waterfront —industries that have since vanished — the parkway cut off city residents from the waterfront and inadvertently routed traffic away from the central business districts in Niagra Falls. Now this underutilized highway is showing its age. The parkway’s declining traffic counts prompted the closure of two of the four lanes. This barrier also inhibits ecotourism and the restoration of natural landscapes. The non-profit organization Wild Ones, the Niagara River Greenway Commission, and the City of Niagara Falls have studied the northern section for full removal and ecological restoration.

Robert Moses Parkway Plan
Proposed Redevelopment of Parkway into boulevard with roundabout. Source: The Buffalo News


In February 2013, the State of New York agreed to remove at least a 2-mile portion of the freeway from Main Street to Findlay Drive. The reclaimed land will be restored to parkland. The rest of the parkway is still part of considerable discussion, as only one alternative calls for removal of the full length of the parkway. The final report outlines three alternatives that are open for possible amendments in the future and subject to further environmental study. The project will likely occur in at least two phases, with the first possibly breaking ground in 2014. Advocates wanting full removal are cautiously optimistic that more of the parkway will be removed.

Robert Moses Parkway Plan
Planned redevelopment for southern portion of Robert Moses Parkway. Source:

Completed Plans

In October 2014, the Empire State Development Board of Directors authorised a grant of up to $10 million for the reconfiguration of a one mile stretch of the Niagara Scenic Parkway in Niagara Falls. The project will result in the removal of the elevated embankment to at grade, open views and access to the Upper Niagara River and Rapids and will include full landscaping and an access plan with native vegetation, scenic overlooks and multi-purpose trail facilities. The goal is to create a "more fitting gateway experience into Niagara Falls State Park and downtown Niagara Falls."

In 2018, the State of New York began on the $42 million project to remove two miles of the highway, opening up 140 acres of park space. The Buffalo News report that this is “the largest expansion of green space since the Niagara Reservation was designed in 1885.” The removal re-establishes waterfront access for the city and increase parks, trails, and ecotourism. 

The three stages of reconstruction, demolition, and reconfiguration were completed by NYSDOT in December 2020. The approximately 2 mile long section of the Niagara Scenic Parkway within City of Niagara Falls was removed and its footprint restored to a park-like setting. Parkway traffic is accommodated by the reconstruction of Whirlpool Street and Third Street. Now that the Parkway is removed, city residents have access to the Niagara Gorge and area visitors can pursue a variety of recreational opportunities in the newly created Niagara Gorge State Park.

Robert Moses Parkway Plan
Construction underway to turn the Robert Moses Parkway into local street, including the construction of a new roundabout.