Skyway Buffalo: The Latest on Removal Efforts

Congressman Higgins Updates WBEN on his attempt to remove it

Mike Baggerman
August 24, 2017 - 3:00 am

WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Congressman Brian Higgins discussed the latest in the efforts to remove the Skyway in the City of Buffalo.

Earlier this month, the congressman wrote a letter to the New York State DOT Commissioner, Matt Driscoll, which called for an Environmental Impact Study on the skyway. That study, required by law, would ensure the DOT makes appropriate choices regarding how much money should be spent to rehabilitate the skyway.

"Throughout the State of New York you're replacing two major bridges in New York City at a cost of $5-7 billion," Congressman Higgins told WBEN on Wednesday. "You're removing two elevated sections of highway in Syracuse and Rochester at a cost of $500 million. The state wants to spend $27 million to add 20 years of life to the skyway and, at the same time, are commencing with the process to replace the skyway."

IN DEPTH: Hear more from Cong. Higgins at the bottom of this page

He added that we can do better because the Skyway structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.

While the study is underway, Higgins said that process could take 24-48 months, meaning that it would conclude by 2019 at the earliest. Even then, there's no guarantee the state would opt to remove the controversial roadway which can cause major traffic issues in case of any accident and often closes in the winter due to poor weather.

"A shorter-span lift bridge is a viable option (or) tunneling is a viable option," Higgins said about possible replacements. "The fact of the matter is the skyway is almost 70 years old and when we look throughout New York State, particularly in Rochester and Syracuse, and they're removing elevated sections of highways that block their downtown areas, their waterfronts...if it can be replaced in those areas, why can't it be replaced in Western New York?"

The congressman was a key voice in the development of Canalside into what it is today and argued that the removal of the skyway could free up 15-20 acres of land along the waterfront which could lead to development.

"We want more land because that adds positive economic activity including expanding the property tax base," Higgins said. "All that property is economically dead right now."

Next week, the congressman said there will be a public meeting to discuss the future of the skyway and he plans to speak at it. According to Congressman Higgins' calendar as provided by one of his staff members, the public information meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 29 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Gateway Building located at 3556 Lakeshore Boulevard in Blasdell.

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LISTEN: Congressman Higgins on Skyway Removal Efforts
 

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