DOT Holds Public Meeting on Skyway's Future

Presented 25 alternative concepts

Brendan Keany
January 28, 2020 - 3:33 pm

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BUFFALO (WBEN) - On Tuesday afternoon, the New York State Department of Transportation held the first of three public open house meetings to further discuss the future of the Skyway.

"Essentially, the purpose of the Buffalo Skyway Project is to realign the existing transportation network to open up the waterfront to recreational, mixed use and further waterfront development," said Susan Surdej, DOT regional public information officer. "Today, we are presenting over 25 concepts for the project, and we're getting input from the public, so this is the first of what will be a few opportunities for the public to come in, see the different concepts and give us their feedback."

Listen to Surdej's full comments below:

Below are the project needs, according to the agency:

  • "Remove the Buffalo Skyway structure and elevated approaches between Tifft Street and Church Street to accommodate existing and planned recreational, mixed-use, and waterfront development and support waterfront economic development initiatives;
  • Improve the transportation network to safely and efficiently accommodate the traffic currently carried by the Buffalo Skyway structure and approaches;
  • Address the safety, operational, and capacity deficiencies of the highway connections that serve economic development areas and local communities within South Buffalo;
  • Reduce commercial vehicular traffic traveling on local residential streets near the RiverBend site; and
  • Improve bicycle and pedestrian connections along the Tifft Street Corridor."

"A project of this magnitude has to run through the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process," said DOT Chief Engineer Wahid Albert. "It's a federal law that provides when you do a transportation action, you have to look at the impacts, you have to mitigate, so if it's traffic, you have to look at it through the social, environmental and economic impacts, and you have to mitigate all of that. So, at the end, the mitigation not only has to have the community feel that there's really not a major change in their commute, but at the same time, if you have an opportunity to enhance the commute, you will do so.

READ MORE:

http://www.buffaloskyway.dot.ny.gov/Documents

http://www.buffaloskyway.dot.ny.gov/PublicOutreach

http://www.buffaloskyway.dot.ny.gov/ProjectLocation

This scoping meeting is a very early part of the Environmental Review Process, and after the meetings are completed, a 30-day public comment period will follow. From there, the Federal Highway Administration and the NYSDOT will consider the comments and identify the alternatives that will be advanced for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which will go over the social, economic, and environmental effects of implementing said project. Surdej says the current timeline estimates a Final EIS in 2021 where they have a preferred alternative.

As the is an extremely complicated infrastructure issue, people all over Western New York will be impacted. Albert admitted that it will be a difficult balance to do what's best for the waterfront but also to not forget Southtowns commuters.

"We cannot forget anybody - every comment is important, every person is important," he began. "I think at the end, you will see as a commuter of the Southtowns, that there's other alternatives that we're studying, and we'll eventually come to the preferred alternative that would enhance their travel experience to Downtown Buffalo."

Listen to Albert's full comments below:

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