Traveling northwest from Buffalo to Grand Island, Niagara Falls and Lewiston, Interstate 190 is the Niagara Section of the New York Thruway. 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.
Interstate 190 is an urban freeway through Buffalo, passing south of Downtown along an elevated roadway. Tolls are charged along the South Grand Island Bridge northbound and the North Grand Island Bridge southbound over the Niagara River. The two spans link Tonawanda and Niagara Falls with Grand Island.
Maps with suggested route numbers for the statewide urban Interstate numerology sent to the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) on August 22, 1958 by the State Public Works Department designated Interstate 90N for the Niagara Section of the New York Thruway. I-190 was assigned to the loop around the north side of Buffalo. AASHO recommended changing I-190 to I-290 along Youngmann Expressway on August 29, 1958 but left I-90N unchanged.
These plans were announced for the New York interstate highway system numbering plan announced by the State Public Works Department on October 21, 1958.1 Following correspondence between AASHO and New York on December 4, 1958 and February 5, 1959, a proposal arose to change the numbering of the Interstate spur from Buffalo to Niagara Falls from I-90N to I-190. The Department of Public Works concurred on February 19, 1959:
The original number for this Canadian connection was 90-N, as recommended by the AASHO route numbering committee. The suggestion to change this number to 190 is excellent, and we will change our maps to comply with this new designation.
AASHO formally approved Interstate 190 on February 24, 1959.
Two sections of I-190 were completed on July 30, 1959. The 5.7 mile long 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.2 The last 5.7 miles of I-190 opened for northbound traffic on September 1, 1960. The southbound roadway remained closed until Summer 1961 due to construction of the Scajaquada Creek Expressway (NY 198).3
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.4