Interstate 190 is the spur of Interstate 90 that leads from the New York Thruway mainline north to Downtown Buffalo, Grand Island and Niagara Falls. This is one of three Interstate highway branches to end at an international boundary. The others are I-110 in El Paso, Texas, which links I-10 with the Bridge of the Americas into Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and I-69W to the World Trade Bridge at Laredo, Texas.
The New York interstate highway system numbering plan announced by the State Public Works Department on October 21, 1958 designated the Niagara Section of the New York Thruway as Interstate 90W.1 Renumbering of the toll road connecting Interstate 90 with Downtown Buffalo and Niagara Falls followed on February 24, 1959.2 Two sections of I-190 were completed on July 30, 1959. The 5.7 mile portion leading west from I-90 (NY Thruway) to Porter Avenue in Buffalo opened with the exception of two Downtown access ramps. Also completed was a 1.5 mile segment from Sheridan Drive (NY 342) to the South Grand Bridge.3 The last 5.7 miles of I-190 opened for northbound traffic on September 1, 1960. The southbound roadway remained until Summer 1961 close due to construction of the Scajaquada Creek Expressway (NY 198).4
Known as the Niagara Section of the New York Thruway, Interstate 190 originally had toll barriers at four locations: west of Interstate 90, south of the Peace Bridge, and at the two Niagara River crossings. The bridge crossings have tolls that are levied on inbound traffic only. During the 1950s and 1960s, when the New York Thruway was established, all the exits on the “Niagara Section” were numbered with the prefix of N-xx. This practice was done to distinguish them from the Thruway mainline exit numbering system.5
Erie County Clerk David J. Swarts presented a petition of about 20,000 signatures to regional transportation officials advocating the removal of the Interstate 190 toll plazas within the city of Buffalo. The contention was that Buffalo is the only upstate city in New York that had tolls levied on its commuters. He cited the differences between Buffalo and Rochester as a justification for the toll removal.
A similar concern arose in the early 2000s from Grand Island commuters concerning the tolled Niagara River spans of Interstate 190. These residents were somewhat successful in their complaints in that they were granted special commuter rates for returning to the island via the Grand Island bridges.6
Efforts to remove the two Buffalo toll plazas were also successful. Tolls along Interstate 190 in Buffalo ceased on October 30, 2006 by order of the New York Thruway Authority.2