The new Riverway plan will do its best to keep people out of the city until after they've been to the park.
In late January, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation finalized its selection of a plan for the "South Segment of the Robert Moses Parkway," the stretch of state-owned Parkway from John Daly Boulevard to the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls.
Originally, there were three alternatives for what to do about the south section of Robert Moses Parkway. One was to leave it as-is. Another was to remove it altogether.
The third, called the "Riverway" plan, is to spend $20.3 million and convert it to a one-way street leading to the park.
State officials decided on the Riverway plan.
The Riverway plan is designed to better route motorists into the state park's 1,200 paid parking spaces.
Presently, motorists can drive on the Robert Moses Parkway towards or away from the park. The Riverway plan will create a traffic circle at the junction of Robert Moses and John Daly Boulevard. Upon exiting interstate 90, signs will direct motorists to the Robert Moses/Riverway. The Riverway will be a three mile long tree-lined one-way driveway to the park, running across half the city. It will retain the current entrance to Goat Island, and create another entrance at the junction of Old Falls Street. This will ensure motorists go through the park before they can enter the city, where are located two private parking lots and the city's 1800-car Rainbow Ramp.
The goal of Riverway, which critics call "Rove-away" (since it helps keep tourists from roving into the city), is to aid State Parks in avoiding competition with the city. Parks officials discovered that when tourists park in the city and walk to the park, State Parks not only loses parking revenue, but revenue from the Park's souvenirs and food products since those offered by private vendors outside the park are offered at much lower prices.
If tourists drive directly into the park without stopping in the city, they not only pay $10 for parking, but are more likely to buy tickets for the Cave of the Winds ($11), Maid of the Mist ($17), Adventure Theater ($11), Discovery Center ($3) Niagara Scenic Trolley ($2). They are also more likely to eat at the Cave of the Winds Snack Bar, the Prospect Point Cafe, or The Top of the Falls Restaurant, and buy gifts and souvenirs at the Top of the Falls Gift Shop, the Cave of the Winds Gift Shop, the Prospect Point Gift Shop, or the Maid of the Mist gift shop.
The new Riverway plan supports the Park's business model of capturing every tourist dollar, a model designed to efficiently move people in and out of the park at peak times. thus doubling or tripling the current rate of turnaround.
While it is true that the State of New York could save taxpayers $15 million by removing the Robert Moses Parkway, such would necessitate motorists driving through the city to get to the park as they did before the Robert Moses Parkway was built in the 1960's, a time when the State Park had only a handful of parking spaces and little commercial enterprise in competition with the city.
While removal was considered, it was concluded that it was not advantageous for the state park: From the Park's published plans for the Riverway, we learn: "One of the major concerns is that [removing the parkway] does not provide direct access to the State Park from the U.S. interstate system, which is how the majority of park visitors [by design] get to the park."
Changing the Robert Moses South to the new Riverway, one way street will allow motorist to be free, only after they visit the park, to visit the city, or visit the boom town of Niagara Falls Ontario in Canada.