The first northbound shield for I-990 was this assembly preceding milepost 1. Photo by Jeff Morrison (07/01/07).
The highest numbered Interstate highway, I-990 is the Lockport Expressway in the Buffalo, New York metropolitan area. Located wholly within the town of Amherst, the commuter freeway connects Tonawanda, Cheektowaga and the Buffalo area with the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) and the city of Lockport as part of a four lane corridor using NY 263 and NY 78.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) approved the designation of Interstate 990 on November 14, 1980 along the first project for the Lockport Expressway.1
The Lockport Expressway, Part I (I 290 interchange to North French Road) is scheduled for completion in 1982. Although this segment is only 4.2 miles long, the completed expressway will extend to the City of Lockport in the future. The inclusion of the Lockport Expressway in the Interstate System was proposed in 1979 by Senator Daniel P. Moynihan and subsequently approved by the FHWA as a spur to Interstate Route 290 in the Town of Amherst, Erie County, New York. It will serve the new State University of New York campus complex in Amherst and will eventually proceed northerly as expansion occurs in the rapidly developing Buffalo-Lockport urban corridor.
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) application to AASHTO further added that the eventual extension to Lockport was nine plus miles. The temporary end point was at a half diamond interchange with NY 299 (N French Road).
Opened to traffic in December 1990, the 2.04 mile long extension from NY 299 (N French Road) northeast to NY 263 (Millersport Highway) was approved as part of Interstate 990 by AASHTO on October 23, 1993. The extension was previously authorized by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) on July 28, 1993 under 23 U.S.C. 139(a). A letter from NYSDOT to FHWA on April 7, 1993 recommending lengthening the I-990 designation cited:
This section of highway, which has been constructed by New York State without any Interstate funds, clearly meets the Guidance Criteria for the selection of Interstate routes and has been functioning as such a route since 1991.
This section is an extension of the Lockport Expressway (IR 990) and many motorists assume that the extension is part of IR-990. We believe that the addition of the highway extension to the Interstate System and its signing as such would have an overall benefit to the motoring public.
Earliest plans for the Lockport Expressway took the freeway north to the Lake Ontario State Parkway or east directly to Rochester.2 Excessive growth projections for eastern Niagara County in the 1960’s redefined the route to end at NY 31 in Gasport.3