November 27, 2012 - Congressman Higgins Announces NYSDOT Plan to Review Alternatives to Skyway

Congressman Brian Higgins welcomed the news that the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has agreed to conduct a review to determine the future of the Skyway.

In a letter from the NYSDOT to Congressman Higgins, Commissioner McDonald writes, “I have directed my staff to conduct a “plausibility review” to identify the critical issues associated with an undertaking of this complexity.  Once this review is completed, we will be better able to have a meaningful discussion on the Skyway’s future.”

In separate correspondence to a local resident, provided to Congressman Higgins, the NYSDOT Regional Director says, “In recognition of the significant investment associated with preserving the Skyway, it is both appropriate and prudent to identify and assess alternatives to its continued existence.  While significant bridge work is several years away, New York State Department of Transportation staff will begin this review in the near term.”
“Great communities have the vision to look beyond the immediate needs of today and make smart decisions that can create a lasting, positive impact for generations to come,” said Congressman Higgins.  “I applaud the DOT for their leadership and look forward to working with the State to make infrastructure decisions that positions our waterfront, our city and our community to reach its full economic potential.”
In a letter to the NYSDOT Commissioner, Higgins points out the similarities between Buffalo’s elevated Skyway and the elevated stretch of Syracuse’s I-81 highway which is currently under review as a possible candidate for demolition.  Higgins has advocated for Skyway removal for some time, pointing to the outdated structure as a barrier for economic development.  This fall, Higgins again renewed his call for Skyway removal, in a letter to the NYSDOT, noting that utilizing alternatives may make more economic sense than maintaining the status quo.
Higgins pointed to recent progress in the area of the Skyway as further justification for its removal.  The four mile long route sits on prime property at Canalside and along 27.5 acres along Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, areas of Buffalo’s waterfront that has undergone and is continuing to experience incredible progress and is now in demand for further economic development.
In addition, improvements have been made or are planned for along infrastructure routes that could serve as alternatives to the Skyway including: a $2.3 million improvement project completed along South Park Avenue; an $11 million project which will be underway next year transforming Ohio Street into a riverfront parkway; the over $50 million effort which created an Outer Harbor Parkway at Fuhrmann Boulevard; as well as a study to connect the inner and outer harbors through a new Buffalo Harbor Bridge.
Higgins concluded, “The Skyway was constructed during a time when Buffalo’s waterfront served a different purpose, one dependent on freight supporting heavy industry.  Over the last few years we’ve come to see what is possible when we remove the barriers to waterfront access meeting the needs of today’s economy.  If we don’t consider a cost-benefit analysis of the Skyway today, this community could be paying a much higher price in the years to come in terms of long-term maintenance and lost economic opportunity.”