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Skyway rehab begins amid calls to address congestion

Higgins: "This is a plan that will lead to public confusion"

March 26, 2018 - 2:21 pm
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Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) -  Rep. Brian Higgins again Monday called on the New York State Department of Transportation to take action to ease commuter inconvenience during the extensive bridge deck repair project.

Construction on the Skyway is underway and will continue systematically through June 2020.  During construction, one or both lanes of the Skyway will be closed for multiple hours each day.  Total cost of the project is nearly $30 million. 

“There seems to be an indifference to the fact that the public is going to be inconvenienced for two years,” said Congressman Higgins, while in the shadows of the Skyway bridge,.  “This is a plan that will lead to public confusion and frustration.  More should be done to allow for adequate preparation for traffic congestion mitigation.”

Last August Higgins wrote a letter to the DOT calling on the Department to “invest in synchronizing the signalization of at least three arteries, and possibly others, in order to increase throughput capacity during construction.”  The Congressman pointed out that Skyway closings due to accidents and severe weather provides clues to understand how commuters use alternate routes. During those incidents, we see increased traffic on Ohio Street, South Park Avenue, Seneca Street and other major roadways.

The Congressman noted that the recent synchronization of signals on Clinton Street in Buffalo resulted in a 36% reduction in travel time in that corridor at a cost of $4,000 per signal.  Applying similar measures, synchronization along the three primary Skyway alternative routes, which include 45 signals in total, would allow for increased capacity and/or reduced travel time during Skyway rehab and well into the future at a cost less than $200,000.

Higgins also called for digital message boards linked to real-time traffic sensors (similar to those currently deployed on the I-990) to provide motorists with live information about which route is fastest.  The DOT has not responded to the Congressman’s proposal or otherwise indicated plans to implement these simple and cost-effective traffic congestion mitigation measures.

Higgins added, “Signal synchronization would provide better driving conditions for motorists during construction as well as delivering long-term traffic flow benefits to neighborhoods and business districts. This shift in traffic patterns is an opportunity to reactivate some of our secondary routes but the driver experience must be a positive one.”

Higgins has long been a proponent of replacing the Skyway with either a tunnel or lower structure utilizing life or swing bridges.

AUDIO EXTRAS

AUDIO:  Rep. Brian Higgins News Briefing

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