MEET THE RIVERLINE

The Riverline will be a nature trail and greenway that links downtown Buffalo to the Buffalo River.

The Western New York Land Conservancy is developing The Riverline based on a vision created by the community. The Riverline will transform the elevated former DL&W rail corridor along the Buffalo River into a string of vibrant and engaging experiences in nature that everyone can enjoy—right in the city, only minutes from downtown.

The Riverline will be an inspiring gathering place that connects people to water, nature, and one another. It will prioritize native plants and animals, public art, and community; it will inspire curiosity, connections and exploration; and it will help build a healthy, inclusive, and opportunity-rich city with vibrancy in every neighborhood.

These designs provide the pathway for taking The Riverline from idea to reality. (Click thumbnails to enlarge.)

Concept Design

Funding for the Concept and Schematic Design phase comes in part through an Environmental Protection Fund grant (EPF#180842) administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Additional funding is provided by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York Blue Fund; KeyBank in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation; Moog Inc.; the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor's IMPACT! Grant Program; the East Hill Foundation; Kathy Lasher and Scott Bieler; Peggy and Jay Elliott; Nancy and Tom Smith; and other individual community donors. The Land Conservancy continues to seek additional funding for The Riverline.

More than a thousand people helped create the vision for The Riverline, generating hundreds of innovative ideas tailored to Buffalo, the waterfront, and the Old First Ward, Perry, and Valley neighborhoods.

Like The 606 in Chicago, the Dequindre Cut in Detroit, The Bentway in Toronto, the Rail Park in Philadelphia, and the High Line in New York City, The Riverline will give people a chance to experience the city in a whole new way.

The Riverline is a crucial piece of waterfront connectivity and an important link in developing a walkable, bikeable regional trail and greenway system, reaching neighborhoods that have yet to benefit from these investments.

Our Progress

 

Early 2017
Visioning Work Began ​

The Western New York Land Conservancy began working with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and many other community partners to reimagine the DL&W rail corridor near downtown Buffalo. Through an ongoing community engagement process, a vision emerged for a nature trail and greenway, stretching from the DL&W terminal near Canalside to the Buffalo River across from the Tesla Gigafactory at Riverbend. ​

June 2018
First Phase of Work Completed ​ ​

Based on a year of outreach and engagement activities, the Land Conservancy created a Community Vision Planthat includes a vision statement, guiding principles, and strategies for creating a vibrant, safe, and welcoming space for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to connect with each other, with nature, and with the waterfront throughout the year.

November 2018
Second Phase of Work Began​ ​

The Land Conservancy worked with a professional competition adviser and community engagement consultant to launch an ideas competition for The Riverline’s design. The competition solicited design ideas from local, national, and international individuals and teams.

June 2019
Ideas Competition Winners Announced​ ​

A jury of design experts and community leaders awarded prizes to their favorite design ideas. The nearly 100 proposals submitted sparked conversations and highlighted community preferences for the design and development of The Riverline.

Late 2019
Design Phase to Begin​ ​

We requested proposals for Concept and Schematic Design (EPF #180842, DL&W Linear Park and Multi-Use Trail Design). Proposals were due by 5:00 PM on May 29, 2020. Once a contractor is selected, ongoing workshops and community engagement events will guide the design work. Funding for this project comes in part through an Environmental Protection Fund grant administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. KeyBank in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York Blue Fund, and individual community donors.

June 2020
Equitable Development Framework Completed

The Land Conservancy, in partnership with community members, local organizations and agencies, the University at Buffalo Regional Institute, and Make Communities, has developed an Equitable Development Framework​ for The Riverline. This document is a framework to promote equity—working to ensure that all residents, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, age, or ability, can benefit from investments in The Riverline and nearby neighborhoods.

August 2020
FIRM SELECTED TO LEAD DESIGN PHASE

W Architecture and Landscape Architecture has been selected as the design firm that will lead the Concept and Schematic Design phase of The Riverline over the next year. A woman-owned business founded in Brooklyn by Barbara Wilks in 1999, W Architecture specializes in reimagining urban spaces by integrating natural systems to help communities unlock their potential for positive change. They have assembled a team of firms that will work together in this design phase, including Hood Design Studio, a minority-owned business founded by MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Walter Hood; and urban ecologist Steven Handel from Green Shield Ecology.

February 2021
DESIGN TEAM SEEKS INPUT ON EARLY DESIGN CONCEPTS

The Western New York Land Conservancy and its design team will display early concept designs for The Riverline during a livestreamed YouTube event at 7:00 p.m. on February 24. ​ During the event, the design team will be live polling our audience. If you open this link on your phone or in a separate window, you'll be able to respond in real time: https://pollev.com/theriverline012. If you're not able to participate in the live poll, there will be other ways to respond after the event.

April 2021
A First Look at Design Drafts

The Riverline is coming into focus with a design concept now emerging. The Western New York Land Conservancy and its award-winning design partners W Architecture, Hood Design Studio, and Green Shield Ecology are at the midpoint of a community centered conceptual design process. Building on four years of engagement, as well as community feedback from February’s initial concept designs, plans for The Riverline are taking shape as a place of refuge where nature has reclaimed this former rail corridor.

July 2021
Land Conservancy and Partners to Present Concept Designs

The Land Conservancy and its award-winning design partners W Architecture, Hood Design Studio, and Green Shield Ecology will present their concept designs for The Riverline at a press conference at the Tewksbury Lodge Pavilion on July 19th at 11:00 a.m. These concept designs are the result of four years of public engagement, as well as community feedback from February’s initial concept designs and April’s first drafts.

December 2021
The riverline names executive director

The Western New York Land Conservancy has named Jeff Lebsack of Buffalo as The Riverline Director. The hire follows a nationwide search to fill the new position for the planned nature trail and greenway near downtown Buffalo. With more than thirty years of experience in community-based engineering, design, and planning, most recently as a Senior Project Manager at Mott MacDonald, Lebsack brings a wealth of experience to the job.

March 2022
The riverline receives federal funding

The Riverline was awarded $900,000 in federal funds in the recently approved federal budget, as announced at a press event on March 14th, 2022. The event featured New York State Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand; Congressman Brian Higgins; Mayor Byron Brown; Thomas George, Director of Public Transit at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA); Jeff Lebsack, The Riverline Director; and Nancy Smith, Executive Director of the Land Conservancy.

In The media

 

Help make The Riverline a reality!

our partners

 

Frequently asked questions

What is The Riverline?

The Riverline will be a 1.5-mile nature trail and multiuse greenway that will connect downtown Buffalo to the Buffalo River. By reimagining a former railway, The Riverline will be an innovative and inspiring community gathering place, alive with the history and voice of the city.

Where can I find The Riverline? ​ ​

There will be access points to The Riverline along the DL&W corridor, stretching through Buffalo’s Old First Ward, Perry, and Valley neighborhoods.

View a map of the The Riverline here.

When will The Riverline be built? ​

We hope to begin construction within the next couple of years, but we don’t know the exact date. Construction will be determined by the design, fundraising, and approvals process.

Who will build The Riverline?

The Western New York Land Conservancy will spearhead the design and construction phases of the project in partnership with community stakeholders and partners in government and philanthropy.

How can I help? ​ ​

If you are interested in getting involved with The Riverline project, you can attend one of our community events. You can also donate to the project here​ and share your thoughts and hopes for The Riverline here.

Western New York Land Conservancy
P.O. Box 471
East Aurora, NY 14052-0471
(716) 687-1225
[email protected]
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