Interstate 990 New York

Interstate 990 New York
History
North End
South End
I-990 north of I-290

The first northbound shield for I-990 was this assembly preceding milepost 1. Photo by Jeff Morrison (07/01/07).

Overview

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.

History

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

Route Information

  • North End – Millersport, NY

  • South End – Amherst, NY

  • Mileage – 6.35
  • Cities – Amhurst

  • JunctionsI-290

Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

I-990 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

Vehicles per day Location
58,940 I-290 to Exit 1
52,134 Exits 1 to 2
50,455 Exits 2 to 3
43,810 Exits 3 to 4
24,100 Exits 4 to 5

Source: 2018/19 AADT – NYS Traffic Data Viewer

Buffalo, NY - 1984 Map

Interstate 990 under construction from Sweet Home Road east to NY 270 in 1984.

Buffalo, NY - 1986 Map

Interstate 990 on the 1986 Gousha North American Road Atlas

The National System of Interstate and Defense Highways Requests on file for additions to the Interstate System on March 30, 1970 included the unconstructed 66.3 mile route linking Niagara Falls with Rochester. The same request designated a 12 mile long corridor for the Lockport Expressway. As the lofty population projections for Niagara County never panned out, the route east to Gasport was never fully realized.

Another plan for Interstate 990 had the route overtaking NY 263 (Millersport Highway) northeast from the current end to NY 78.2 With job growth in Lockport accelerating in the 1980s, the Lockport Highway Association advocated the “Four Lanes to Lockport” effort to both enhance accessibility with the rest of the highway network and also attract future investment and jobs.3

The Lockport Expressway opened in the early 1980s as construction got underway for the University of Buffalo – North Campus. The route ended at North French Road in Amherst, with the Four Lanes to Lockport effort focused on extending north to at least Millersport Highway.3

The final section of Interstate 990 opened following a ribbon cutting ceremony held on the morning of December 21, 1990. A two mile stretch opened from French Road (Exit 4) to NY 263 (Exit 5). Paid for with federal and state funds, the $20 million project included expansion of a mile long section of Millersport Highway to four lanes. The roadway was funded as part of the 1983 Rebuild New York bond issue and included in a “memorandum of understanding” between the governor and state Legislature.4

Subsequent work in the “Four Lanes to Lockport” effort included $13.2 million to reconstruct 3.5 miles of NY 78 (Transit Road) leading north from an expanded NY 263 (Millersport Highway) beyond I-990. Groundbreaking for the project was held on April 26, 1996 with anticipated completion in November 1997. Efforts to construct the four lane corridor to Lockport commenced in 1980 at a cost of around $85 million.1

North End – NY 263 Millersport, New York

I-990 North at NY 263

I-990 north at NY 263 - Amherst, NY

The northernmost section of I-990 (Lockport Expressway) arcs eastward from N French Road (CR 299) alongside CrossPoint Business Park to NY 263 (Millersport Highway). 08/23/21

I-990 north at NY 263 - Amherst, NY

Interstate 990 ends at a half diamond interchange (Exit 5) with NY 263 (Millersport Highway) beyond the Hopkins Road overpass. 08/23/21

I-990 north at NY 263 - Amherst, NY

NY 263 (Millersport Highway) angles 3.1 miles northeast to NY 78 at Millersport. Lockport, the county seat of Niagara County, is nine miles away. 08/23/21

I-990 north at NY 263 - Amherst, NY

Concrete barriers shunt traffic onto Exit 5 ahead of a roadway stub left over from the cancelled plans to extend Interstate 990 north closer to Lockport. 08/23/21

I-990 north at NY 263 - Amherst, NY

Interstate 990 concludes at a signalized intersection with NY 263 (Millersport Highway) west of Glen Oak Golf Course. Photo by Jeff Morrison (07/01/07).

NY 263 North at I-990

NY 263 north at I-990 - Amherst

NY 263 (Millersport Highway) travels four miles northeast from the University of Buffalo (UB) to the north end of Interstate 990. 08/23/21

NY 263 South at I-990

NY 263 south at I-990 - Amherst

NY 263 (Millersport Highway) branches southwest from NY 78 (Transit Road) to Swormville in Amherst ahead of Interstate 990. 08/23/21

NY 263 south at I-990 - Amherst

Linking Lockport with I-290 in the town of Amherst, Interstate 990 parallels NY 263 (Millersport Highway) to the west. 08/23/21

I-990 South

I-990 south at NY 263 - Amherst, NY

The first reassurance marker for Interstate 990 south precedes the Hopkins Road overpass just west of NY 263 (Millersport Highway). 08/23/21

South End I-290 – Amherst, New York

I-990 South at I-290

I-990 south at I-290 - Amherst, NY

A pedestrian bridge connecting the Willow Ridge Estates community with Sweet Home High School, a pedestrian bridge spans I-990 one mile ahead of the directional T interchange with Interstate 290 (Power Line Expressway). 08/23/21

I-990 south at I-290 - Amherst, NY

Interstate 990 south concludes at the separation for I-290 west to the northern suburbs of North Tonawanda and Tonawanda and southeast through Amherst. 08/23/21

I-990 south at I-290 - Amherst, NY

Interstate 290 east ties into the New York Thruway (Interstate 90) in four miles between Snyder and Williamsville. I-290 west connects with I-190 north to the South Grand Island Bridge in 5.9 miles. 08/23/21

I-290 West at I-990

I-290 west at I-990 - Amherst, NY

Leaving the cloverleaf interchange (Exit 5) with NY 263 (Millersport Highway), I-290 (Powerline Expressway) continues a half mile west to Exit 4 with Interstate 990 north. 08/22/21

I-290 west at I-990 - Amherst, NY

Interstate 290 west passes under Maple Road as Exit 4 departs for I-990 (Lockport Expressway) north to the University of Buffalo (UB) and Lockport. 08/22/21

I-290 west at I-990 - Amherst, NY

Two lanes leave I-290 (Youngmann Expressway) west for I-990 north just beyond the Sweet Home Road underpass. Interstate 990 runs between a number of apartment complexes just west of the UB campus. I-290 extends west to a commercialized interchange with U.S. 62 (Niagara Falls Boulevard). 08/22/21

I-290 East at I-990

I-290 east to I-990 - Amherst, NY

The first of several guide signs for I-990 on I-290 east precedes Exit 3 for U.S. 62 (Niagara Falls Boulevard). I-990 was the last of the branch routes established for I-90 within the Empire State. Because of that, it is out of sequence with the rest starting with I-190 at Buffalo to the west and I-890 in Schenectady to the east. 08/23/21

I-290 east to I-990 - Amherst, NY

Interstate 290 east enters a three quarter cloverleaf interchange (Exits 3 A/B) with U.S. 62 (Niagara Falls Boulevard) a half mile ahead of I-990. Traveling through residential and retail areas of north Buffalo, U.S. 62 receives a significant amount of traffic. 08/23/21

I-290 east to I-990 - Amherst, NY

Exit 3 B loops away from I-290 (Youngmann Expressway) east for U.S. 62 north. Four lanes advance to the adjacent directional T interchange (Exit 4) with Interstate 990 (Lockport Expressway). 08/23/21

I-290 east to I-990 - Amherst, NY

Interstate 290 expands to five lanes ahead of the split with I-990 north. The ensuing exits from both I-990 north and I-290 east serve the adjacent State University at Buffalo (UB) campus. 08/23/21

I-290 east to I-990 - Amherst, NY

Two lanes separate from Interstate 290 east at Exit 4 for I-990 north. Lockport lies 15 miles to the northeast via NY 263 and NY 78. 08/23/21

Sources:

  1. “Final Phase Begins in ‘Four Lane to Lockport’ Project.” Buffalo News, April 27, 1996.
  2. Re: Was I-990 originally supposed to run east of NY 263?” online posting by cl94, AARoads Forum, August 9, 2014.
  3. “Four Lanes has enabled Lockport’s continued growth.” Buffalo News, December 27, 2015.
  4. “New Link in Lockport Route to Open 4-lane Highway to Buffalo Only 2 – Miles Shy of Goal.” Buffalo News, December 20, 1990.

Page updated June 14, 2022.