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Higgins Pushes for Skyway Removal

Congressman Brian Higgins is again asking the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to put the brakes on long-term maintenance of the Buffalo Skyway while alternatives are reviewed. Specifically, Higgins is requesting the DOT refrain from including expensive Skyway rehab on the State’s Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) projects list.  
Spending more than $100 million to rebuild the Buffalo Skyway over the next twenty years would be a transportation and land-use policy disaster,” writes Congressman Higgins in a letter to NYSDOT Commissioner McDonald. “It will cost far more to perpetuate an unsafe, functionally obsolete design which stifles Buffalo’s potential as a great waterfront city than it will to build better, more efficient infrastructure.”

According to the DOT’s own 2008 Skyway Management Study, the cost of maintaining the structure for another fifty years is expected to reach approximately $117 million. “To invest several tens of millions of dollars to keep it up is to perpetuate failure,” added Higgins. 
Higgins argues the Skyway is a barrier to waterfront development and private sector investment in the region. The four mile long route sits on prime property at Canalside and along 27.5 acres along Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. 

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According to bridge data released by the NYSDOT last month, the Buffalo Skyway is found to be “functionally obsolete” under federal highway standards, due to its lack of shoulders, a feature which frequently causes the highway to shut-down completely when accidents occur. In addition, the Skyway’s condition rating is 4.85, which places the structure in the “deficient bridge” category according to the State’s own standards. Furthermore, it is listed by the U.S. Department of Transportation as “fracture critical,” which means failure of any one of a number of structural elements would lead to a catastrophic failure.
While Skyway removal and alternatives have been discussed in the past, Higgins believes the State today has a better understanding of the economic needs of Buffalo and Western New York, as evidenced by Albany’s hands-on approach to other infrastructure projects like the Peace Bridge and Ohio Street, and will thoughtfully weigh the cost-benefit ratio of such a project. 
Higgins points out progress underway or recently completed supports routes which could help to carry the north-south traffic which currently utilizes the Skyway. “With construction of a new Outer Harbor Parkway at Fuhrmann Boulevard complete, construction of a new river front Parkway at Ohio Street in the works and planning for the Buffalo Harbor Bridge well underway we are already positioning this community for the eventual removal of the Skyway,” said Higgins. “The decision is ours: do we take advantage of the groundwork we have laid and steer scarce transportation dollars to projects that meet Buffalo’s transportation needs today and tomorrow or do we pay to maintain an obsolete super structure and as a result pay the price in terms of lost economic opportunity.”
Skyway Photo.JPG

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  • New2Buffalo

    If I could high five/hug the man right now I would. Down with the Skyway! The sooner the better.

  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/6JIgHjktuJRt07WISVWqFIrfUIvk#aca62

    Skyway was built to take care of congestion in the boom years of Buffalo. The congestion had to do with a Robust Manufacturing area near downtown Buffalo, Grain Elevators fully operational, Steel in Lackawana, etc.
    That is all gone now, so the need is gone.
    It was a quick fix
    It is one of the most dangerous ( in particular the winter) stretches of Highway in the USA.
    And it is Ugly.
    Lets get rid of it!
    ( Buffaloian living in Hong Kong)

  • JM

    I thought the Buffalo Harbor Bridge was shot down?

  • rubagreta

    If New York City can tear down Manhattan’s West Side Highway, Buffalo can certainly tear down The Skyway.

  • Chris

    Well they better get on it… This should have been done two years ago.
    I guess it really doesn’t matter because there is no actual development other than infrastructure at this point. If there is any time to do it, now is the time.
    If this happens the city looks like fools as the Webster block without the Skyway is way more valuable than Webster with Skyway.
    Hopefully this can be resolved quickly so that demo can coincide with other construction projects.

  • 14213

    I know I’ll get thumbs down for this but I like the skyway. I don’t drive it often, but when I do, or when I take out of town guest over it, we’re all in awe. It really is a cool view of the city and the lake.
    Imagine if it were nicely lit up, along with the silos? That would be a spectacle at night.
    I don’t know if it’s the same pot of money, but why not spend that on a proper redo of the Scaji? Cover some of the 33?

  • ladyinwhite

    I say leave it. It’s the perfect spot to look down on the town, I mean city.

  • newskylinebuffalo

    Ya know perhaps we could demo just part of the skyway leading into the city (from the inner harbor to first onramp), and make the entrance/onramp on the very southern tip of Main Street… if “too low” for ships, make it a draw bridge. Guarantee this would be MUCH more feasible than demoing the whole kit and kaboodle

  • townline

    What an idiot Higgins is. The death nail for the removal of the Skyway idea was when he reconstructed the only new limited access highway on a United States waterfront in the past decade – while every other city is looking at removing their highways from their waterfronts. Now this moron wants to remove the skyway for an at-grade bridge and roadway. So he essentially spent $80,000,000 of our money to build a brand new highway on the waterfront that connects two at-grade city street systems. IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!
    Higgins – you should have had some vision years ago when you wasted so much of our money already. Now you want another $100,000,000 for a project that will never function correctly because you fucked everything up 5 years ago.
    Yes the outer harbor bridge is still a good idea, but it would have been a GREAT idea had Higgins not fucked the whole thing up with Route 5.

  • r-k-tekt

    townline…You are right on target…Any excuse for a news conference…Higgins had the opportunity to do the right thing and rebuild Route 5 as an at grade parkway with a 30-40mph speed limit. Instead he he replaced the old route 5 with what was there before…a limited access expressway…He missed a once in a lifetime opportunity…Now he’s found religion?
    Get back to Washington and start legislating instead of cherry picking issues like the skyway or worse yet the Bills blackout policy.

  • Clarence133

    hi

  • grad94

    i like the proposal to leave a section of it as the city’s version of the high line. install stairs & elevators, provide some shelter and safety railings, landscape it, and bam! most amazing views and unusual waterfront attraction around.

  • 14213

    I like that idea as well

  • Travelrrr

    It seems like major flip-flopping on his part, indeed.
    However, I say “do it”–if there really is an opportunity to demo the Skyway. Barring that, the Skyway can be worked with to be made interesting.
    As many have proposed, it can be made pedestrian-friendly (think of the vistas), and interesting things can be done to make the space usable underneath, etc. For this, though, I would propose we get an internationally-known urban designer to do something truly unique and special. Hey–the High Line guys now have a consultancy.

  • flyguy

    What I do not understand considering this is why an elevated Rt 5 was reconstructed along the outer harbor? That should have never happened if the skyway is now subject of removal. Wish the big picture was considered prior. As long as a relatively seamless north-south through route for truck traffic and travellers etc still exists or there is a viable option I think removal of the skyway only makes perfect sense. It just doesnt work hanging around above whats going on at canalside.

  • Woods79

    I drive it every day and the view is amazing. I can see weather develop off the lake and even the windmills in Varysburg. I used to hate the thing, but it is growing on me slowly for selfish reasons. I don’t even hate it from the bottom now that the land underneath at canalside has been cleaned up. I think if you have the opportunity to tear it down though, you have to go for it. Its dangerous as hell, and def not worth 100+ million to maintain. Lets bring folks back to earth.

  • buffaloroam

    When Rt 5 was being considered for the reconstruction their was a lot of opposition to it. A huge push for the State DOT to do the right thing and make it an at grade parkway. Did you guys forget about that or are you just new to this game? Saying that “Higgins built” the new elevated roadway is not accurate. It was the state DOT that did not listen to community input (including Higgins I believe) to build a parkway. There were tons of community planning meetings… years of them in fact.

  • Marty Biniasz

    Those who live in the Southtowns & South Buffalo need to speak up. I can’t believe that an enhanced Ohio Street Corridor and Inner Harbor bridge could facilitate 40-thousand commuters each day. Do you want to turn Ohio Street into another 198 through Delaware Park? What do you do when tens of thousands of cars are dumped into downtown without quick diversion to the Thruway? Where on ground level do you host an interchange with the I-190? Contrary to our Political leaders, our waterfront still has industry… that is part of the charm of its authenticity. Those who live north of the Buffalo River most likely do not care… but how about waiting 20-25 minutes in traffic to allow a lake freighter to pass? Is that progress? Folks, the Buffalo River is not just for kayaks and concerts. We have a bridge that allows for all stakeholder (industry, commuters, outer harbor access, etc) to conduct business. The elevated highway frees the use of ground level land for waterfront development. Embrace the Skyway, light it up, enjoy the view from its apex and lets move on.

  • SadLlama

    You could also go to the top of city hall for that same experience, all without going 30 MPH!

  • RaChaCha

    Just so you know who’s here giving you a thumbs up.

  • JSmith

    Right, I don’t understand why Higgins is promoting the removal of the Skyway when he was the one who locked it in for the next 50 years by demanding that route 5 be rebuilt as an elevated superhighway.
    But it does make sense from a certain point of view. Rebuilding the route 5 highway, demolishing the Skyway, and building a new overengineered bridge is a terrific way to spend a lot of federal money on local construction projects. I guess that’s the real motivation here.

  • No_Illusions

    Considering the rush hour traffic on route 5 on a daily basis, you are going to need a high capacity road one way or another. It is an integral commuter route for the southtowns. There needs to be a feasible solution to that dilemma.

  • Cam33r4

    I actually think you have a valid point that should definitely be addressed before they make any decisions. I for one actually think we should keep the Skyway. The Skyway has been an important part of Buffalo’s history. I think some reconstruction to the exterior would do a world of good. Get rid of the brown cement-y look, and make it look good and more modern.

  • No_Illusions

    Its not hard to figure out. It was designed to accommodate high amounts of vehicular traffic, without restricting shipping below. Low bridges restrict shipping. Draw bridges reduces vehicular traffic. At the time it was an elegant solution to both problems. Does anyone know of the shipping rates currently that passes beneath the skyway? http://www.bizjournals.com/albany/news/2012/06/19/ny-bill-would-increase-maximum.html

  • Rand503

    What do commuters do when the weather closes the skyway and Father Baker bridge?

  • nick at nite

    Knock it down baby! Too bad they spent alot on that parkway to connect the skyway.

  • paulsobo

    Wasnt Higgins formerly supportive of keeping the skyway and of not combining Route5 and Fuhrmann Boulevard into a Parkway entrance into the city?
    If so, then I am glad to see the about face.
    The Tifft Street Bypass recently constructed and a new Harbor Lift Bridge will take care of any traffic needs. I agree the skyway isnt needed.
    Plus removing the skyway and the skyway access ramp would return multiple city blocks back to taxpaying productive use!!! How can you argue with something that helps the city tax base!!!
    Now if the city would only reallize that they could yield similar gains by eliminating downgrading the Kensington Expressway to a Parkway after Jefferson/Best and removing the Erie Street Access Ramp and replacing it with Virginia Street…then that would return even more city blocks to productive taxpaying use.
    The city doesnt make money off of expressway access ramps. It would be nice if the did but they dont! The result is that the city loses tax dollars on land used for expressways…(their pure expense … no revenue at all) and the convenience of access ramps means traffic leaves the city rather than staying and supporting downtown businesses along their route.

  • Marty Biniasz

    Rand503…. Commuters sit in horrific traffic when the Skyway is closed. Ohio, South Park, Abbott Road, Seneca Street all seize up. I support the upgrading of Ohio Street but not as a substitute for heavy traffic.

  • brownteeth

    I say if it won’t be used as a highway there is absolutely no sense in keeping any of it. Why would we want to create more auto congestion if we are still going to have to stare at the skyway looming overhead and blocking water views. Not to mention the columns/piers that hold it up are impeding direct connections to Canalside. Either it should stay or be completely removed to open up a clearspan of real estate.
    Higgy Bear should have thought this through a bit more before he wasted money on a highway to nowhere. I also like the added expense in putting limestone pavers down on the bike path along Fuhrmann blvd. I think the asphalt paving was sufficient. Seems a bit overkill for a simple bike path.

  • mmmmm…Buffalo

    It’s the thruway. Sacrificing prime city land so that people can save 15 minutes on a commute is a terrible trade off.

  • mjd1001

    I have never wavered from my desire to see the get taken down. You don’t have many opportunities to do something like this, so you should push to remove it now.
    As for the traffic from/to the southtowns, obviously an alternative must be presented. However, this is where someone with vision can come in. What can take some pressure off of the highway would be a short light rail line. Are there any exisiting tracks that head south along or near Rt5? Obviously, probably too expensive and ‘pie-in-the-sky’, but any kind of light rail that could connect the downtown metro-rail to a large parking lot a few miles south would be the thing that shows some vision for the future.

  • townline

    It probably was a little less ‘pie-in-the-sky’ before we spent $80,000,000 on a new waterfront highway – but why would we think ahead like that?

  • JM

    LaFarge gets the English River (every 2 weeks or so), Lake and Rail gets the Cuyuhuga (2-3 times a season), Standard gets the Herbert Jackson (2-3 at end of season), most others go down the City Ship Canal.

  • Buffalo All Star

    I can’t believe you people…its a highway in Buffalo..that closes…when the weathers bad!! WOW!
    Ya speak up Southtowners for your natural right to be downtown in 12 minutes. Much like those “Easttowners” birthright to be downtown via the 33 thru devastated East Buffalo in 15 minutes as well right?
    Excuse my lack of statistics for shipping and lake freighters in Buffalo..in the last 15 years I’ve seen a dozen lake freigters..maybe 20? Scare tactics much? As if the one big boat that comes to Buffalo a month is going to take 30 minutes to go 500 yards during peak rush hour times only..the ignorance and inability to think about change here is unbelievable!!!
    “Functionally obsolete”…”deficient”…”perpetual failure”..hooo humm I’m from Hamburg and it makes my drive to the Sabres games shorter..lets keep it!
    I’m not worried about the raised portion of Rt 5..I think it better to have the traffic elevated for its beeline to the interstate. (it also hides the rust belt blight behind it..I don’t think we would have much of a waterfront if we had to look at junk yards and abandoned rail beds..crumbling elevators etc)
    I am all for multiple lift bridges connecting downtown to the outer harbor..one at Ohio street (kelly island right) and the 2nd right at Main by the arena. Industrial in nature..kind of a “bridge of bridges” so to speak..tying a changing downtown to its industrial “hardscape” past.
    I am very interested to see what affect this has on the elevated portions of the 190..without the skyway I always thought the 190 could be at grade pushing the elevated portions further outside of downtown. Eliminating the “belt” in the beltway for a portion of the city at least.

  • townline

    Sure. But the absolute worst possible solution to that is to build a limited access highway on our waterfront. That is exactly what Higgins chose to support.
    Now – by advocating for the removal of the skyway he looks to accomplish 2 things… 1 – build a ridiculous limited access highway on our waterfront (done!). 2 – create a monumental traffic problem by connecting that limited access highway to an at-grade city bridge – so you will have all of that 60mph traffic converge at a single access point (most drivers will not chose Ohio Street when there is a more direct option). Right now, the skyway empties out onto 2 exit ramps at its terminus, plus a direct connection to another limited access highway. All of that traffic will now be put onto a single, at grade, city bridge.
    The solution to the traffic volumes should have been dealt with when they rebuilt Route 5.
    Higgins is so frickin stupid and short sighted I can’t stand it. I wish he would bring on an adviser who can actually envision the impacts that major capital projects have on land, on circulation and on a community. Its embarrassing and frustrating.

  • Mark_Hitchcock

    I am all for getting rid of it. As far as traffic goes it is less fluid and more like a gas in my opinion. It will expand and contract along the points of least resistance. It will disperse to side streets and alt routes and if the routes are few and slow people will find alt means to travel to and from the city. Taking it down will not prevent people in the southtowns from coming to the city no more than leaving it up will cause people to come into the city. When you are talking about a 25 min drive 10 more minutes is nothing to worry about. The argument about people getting stuck in traffic when the skyway is closed is silly. People get stuck because they use those routes so infrenquently and they have even more limited options because other roads are also less passable due to the weather. It does not at all simulate day to day driving. People will eventually find the fasted way to where they are going. It might just mean that lots of people take different ways to get to the same place.

  • nyc

    good post. we have over-engineerd our traffic management to the point that all the traffic load gets concentrated on the same routes. We could use a little decentralization..

  • nyc

    As much as the route 5 project didn’t make sense, the removal of the skyway still does make sense. Land values for the canalside parcels will go up and make development more attractive. Concerts and events on the Wharf will no longer be impacted by reverberations of the skyway traffic above. Downtown will feel closer to the water as access ramps from the skyway to downtown get removed and the 190 remains as the only impediment (which is more manageable as a barrier than the skyway ramps). Would love to see this happen.

  • longgone

    1 – Buffalo is not Manhattan. I know that stings but it’s the truth.
    2 – Someone correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t they just spend a bunch of money working on the tail end of the skyway on the outer harbor? If so, the plan is to hold a press conference NOW to say the skyway should come down?
    Seems to be this is just a press opportunity to say you’re fighting for something that’s not going to happen.
    Down votes start………now!

  • nyc

    to quote the State DOT Commissioner at a Press Conference announcing the route 5 project years ago:
    “the reconstruction of route 5 will not delay the removal of the skyway”
    I know it doesn’t make sense to have then built the limited access version of route 5 rather than the parkway version, but that was said. although i always assumed it was because she didn’t finish her line
    “…because the state dot never intends to remove the skyway.”

  • brownteeth

    Like 4 times a year?

  • SadLlama

    It has been proven many times over that removing highway infrastructure DOES NOT create all sorts of mayhem and traffic delays. Plenty of other cities have removed highways that cut through cities and/or run along waterfronts and the results have been fantastic. Tear it down!

  • BuffaloIrish15

    I think it needs to go but there are a few reasons I believe it may not be the right idea..
    1) Ok so tear it down and you change traffic so it goes through the new waterfront area BUT wont this cause the problem of more pollution from cars in waterfront area just like whats going on with the peace bridge?
    2) Making the waterfront area a high traffic area might not be such a good idea because right now i think its perfect for Events and walking around Downtown….What happens when large amounts of Traffic flood that area during events and people are walking around downtown?
    Hope this is worded right so people get my point haha

  • brownteeth

    That extra traffic on S. Park and Abbott may actually do some good for businesses on those streets.

  • brownteeth

    I have to ask the question, and forgive my ignorance on this, but what did people do before the skyway was built and our region had a higher population?

  • grad94

    for one thing, they had streetcars and buses. for another thing, they tended to live near their jobs and not 20 miles away.
    it is amusing how many people cannot imagine a city functioning without cars, even when they live in one that was almost fully built out before the car was even invented.

  • No_Illusions

    Most probably lived in the city. For those who didnt there was once a trolley that went into Hamburg.

  • whatever

    bt – according to this
    http://buffalostreets.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/skyway/
    it was first considered around 1922, then built in the early 1950s and ‘eliminated the waits for railroad and lift bridges’….
    “…The Buffalo Skyway was originally known as “High Level Bridge”, a description of the function of getting the road over the Buffalo River. The bridge opened in 1955 and was a marvel of modern engineering. The bridge is fraught with controversy today, as many people see the skyway as a barrier to development of the waterfront.
    The bridge eliminated the waits for railroad and lift bridges that plagued commutes between downtown Buffalo and South Buffalo/Lackawanna. Plans for a bridge had been discussed amongst the Planning Commission as early as 1922. Some early traffic planners had fought for a tunnel instead. The tunnel idea was scrapped because the City would have been responsible for operation and maintenance costs for lighting, ventilating and other maintenance, which the City could not afford. …”
    Although Buffalo’s population was over double in the 1950s what it is now, the U.S. number of cars per capita has tripled since then (in this chart from energy.gov, it looks around 280 cars/person in 1950 vs. 840 cars/person in 2008, which would be exactly triple).

  • No_Illusions

    No one lives there. There wont be any public outcry like with the peace bridge.

  • buffaloTrek

    I love the idea of an elevated pedestrian walkway suspended between the pillars, imagine some huge hanging gardens attached to the sides as well, it would look incredible. You could extend the walkway all the way to the outer harbor

  • Dagner

    I believe the trolley went all the way to Angola.

  • impressingagent

    A great discussion. It is impossible to build there. Though I,d love for someone to come up with a 100 million dollar idea to add to harbor center,Seneca creek and the inner harbor.

  • biniszkiewicz

    Keep the Skyway!
    -The views are awesome.
    -It handles huge volumes with no stops.
    -It doesn’t impede development of downtown in the least. Canalside goes directly underneath this; ditching the Skyway won’t open up big development sites downtown. There will still be a need to get southtown commuters out of the town.
    The last thing we need is monumental traffic jams while we wait for a drawbridge to come back down so commuters can amble out of town. (plus the enormous expense of building replacement infrastructure and then labor costs to man the drawbridge make this untenable).

  • jumpingbuffalo

    There have actually been a few studies saying that replacing the skyway would actually save taxpayers more in the long-run than maintaining a structure that has lived well beyond it’s intended lifespan.
    As for these “monumental traffic jams” that will occur. I think you greatly overestimate the shipping traffic in Buffalo. I would imagine a retracted drawbridge would actually have less of an impact than the skyway closed because of zero in the winter since it would happen so little and only lasts the amount of time that it takes the ship to move through.
    And the skyway does impede development in canalside. Huge blocks of land are left untouched because of the support columns and it cuts right through the middle of the proposed market that is due to be build.

  • flyguy

    Bini I totally agree with you but I also think an alternate route OR a tunnel would be a much better option. A 1950s era skyway hanging over a new canalside district which is supposed to be a real catalyst downtown do not mix well. Its like milk and beer…ewww. I do wonder what a drawbridge stopping traffic would be like considering Rt 5 traffic. I wouldnt want to get rid of one problem just to result in another unintended consequence. Tunnel just seems best considering a seamless limited access regionally significant north-south thoroughfare. If Tidewater VA can do the number of massive tunnels they do then Buffalo should get one! I support the bridge projects to link the inner and outer harbors as well for local traffic but as a piece of the Rt 5- I-190 corridors I question.

  • Magnum

    Go to bed clarence. The internet is a bad place.

  • biniszkiewicz

    a tunnel is:
    1. tremendously expensive,
    2. ugly to drive through. Traveling on the Skyway presents drivers with a panorama from 10 stories up. A tunnel will eliminate those views.

  • biniszkiewicz

    you don’t think a drawbridge would be disruptive? Have you ever sat for a half hour waiting for the Ohio Street bridge to be lowered? I have. Before I knew just how long it takes to let a tanker pass, I foolishly sat in line, waiting and waiting and waiting instead of driving around to the Skyway. Literally a half hour.
    It’s not just large ships that the bridge would have to be raised for. Every sailboat requires it, too.

  • biniszkiewicz

    what a great idea! Instead of getting the view every day on the commute, anyone who wants can just stop on their way to work, pay for parking, spend a half hour getting to City Hall and climbing the elevator and stairs to go look at the same view. How practical! Not.

  • grad94

    a typical person in 1950 owned 280 cars? and today they own 840?

  • brownteeth

    I realize more people lived in the city proper back then, and public transport was utilized far more than today, but there must have been a period (maybe a decade or two) before the skyway was built but when the first ring ‘burbs were packed with people who owned cars and who still worked in the city. Like I said, forgive my ignorance on the stats but there must have been a handful of regular routes that handled that much traffic into/out of the city without the skyway.
    I used to be very pro tearing the skyway down. Now that I see how Canalside has worked around it I’m on the fence. On one hand, tearing it down would free up blocks of land that could make the direct connectivity to Canalside possible. On the other hand the Skyway does bring people into the city very easily and I would hate to give suburbanites (southtowns) another reason to stay away.

  • SadLlama

    Yeah since it completely makes sense to be taking your eyes off the road (especially on windy days) to check out the view while driving over an elevated highway. Hey let’s build elevated highways all along the waterway so the drivers can enjoy nice views!

  • biniszkiewicz

    could you cite those studies specifically? I’ve never seen a study which supported the Skyway removal; all I’ve heard are assertions.

  • SadLlama

    Do you work for the NYS DOT?

  • Up and coming

    …….and what would that accomplish?

  • Up and coming

    …..if that.

  • biniszkiewicz

    people can chew gum and drive at the same time.

  • biniszkiewicz

    negative. never have had a government job in my life. not in the transportation field (I do real estate).

  • irishmedic716

    You are correct with English River. She arrives roughly every two weeks down the Buffalo River to the LaFarge facility at Ganson Street & Ohio Street. Herbert C. Jackson has been making more frequent trips to the Buffalo waterfront too.
    The other vessels that do transit the City Ship Canal however would require height clearance as well. The American Mariner, roughly the largest and tallest of the Lake freighters to utilize the City Ship Canal comes in at just about 730 feet long, however her superstructure comes extremely close to the Skyway at it’s highest peak.
    The McKee & Sons at 579 feet transits the City Ship Canal as well offloading at the Sand Piles located the extant of the canal.
    I think with our proximity to the Welland Canal and our maritime history, why no one has looked into a dry dock and shipbuilding/repair facility for the old Bethlehem Steel complex. As Gateway Metroport is the only true “deep water” access any ships with a draft and beam (such as the recent Navy ships here for Navy Week)have for docking…the potential of attracting not only Lakers but Salties to dock, be repaired, etc; could be enticing. I mean for christsakes, American Steamship Company is a Buffalo (Williamsville) based company that runs 10 of the Lakers.

  • North Park

    What are some of the other effects of skyway removal that we haven’t already beat to death?
    Erie St
    Erie can be rebuilt to continue all the way to Main St., as it once did. This would make it easier to get to the waterfront.
    South Elmwood/Lower Terrace
    It could be reconfigured as an easily navigable 2 way street terminating at Erie or Franklin.
    Lakefront Blvd.
    Lakefront could be continued all the way to Pearl St. creating a developable block between Lakefront, Pearl, and Marine Dr.
    The above 3 street reconfigurations would make waterfront access much easier and open up land in the canalside vicinity to more development.
    The block bounded by Pearl, Franklin, Seneca, and Exchange could be opened for development.
    Now, the major problem that has been beat to death is the loss of quick egress from downtown. Well, even if we do remove the skyway, Route 5 is still a limited access highway on the outer harbor. Assuming that we don’t remove all of that highway, then the main issue is how do we get vehicles to that limited access highway. The obvious answer is a lift bridge at the end of Main, Erie, or Michigan, which I believe Higgins included in his press conference.
    The Ohio street re-design will carry some southbound traffic. Some folks will just use the 190-90. Others will go down South Park/Seneca (we can even adjust the stoplights to ease traffic south during rush hour to help mitigate)
    I really don’t think that removing the skyway will result in a huge impact on commute times. So long as a bridge connecting downtown to the outer harbor/route 5 is built and the Ohio St. redesign happens that should be enough.

  • flyguy

    A tunnel might be ugly to drive through but the skyway is ugly. A tunnel wouldnt be up in the air 10 stories during Buffalo winters either. Do we really need panoramic driving views? Is this some sort of 1950’s era automobile romance driving through the country attraction? Cant we establish those views with some real development as in destinations to go to and visit downtown? I just dont get it. The skyway and elevated section along the outer harbor just physically chop up the land and create barriers. Other areas go expensive and invest in large scale projects. This is nothing compared to the scale of the Big Dig in Boston but Boston got their Big Dig. I still think a tunnel keeps that direct connection to the southtowns and through truck traffic, etc., removes that physical and visual barrier away that now exists and leaves any new Ohio Street or Main Street bridge structures to local traffic. We’re talking about a tunnel here to duck nuder canalside and the Buffalo River and comes up on the outer harbor side at grade, not a tunnel that goes on and on and on for miles and miles.
    Whatever will be will be.

  • Buffaboy

    xtend 400 downtown

  • Billo

    You’re right, Buffalo is not Manhattan. In Manhattan they propose and execute grand projects like the 2nd Avenue subway, which has been in the works since 1945.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Avenue_Subway
    I think if they cease funding for needed repairs/upkeep on the skyway there will be no other option but to tear it down eventually. Whether that SHOULD happen is a debateable issue, but are you serious saying “it won’t happen because it’s Buffalo” as if this is some silver-bullet proposition? It’s not, it’s just a proposal that is sensible for various reasons, as stated in the post.

  • hd-sys

    Folks, let’s celebrate what we have, and build upon the variety that is our City. No more feeling sorry for ourselves because the big silver bullet project hasn’t happened. Imagine if we built up our unique assets, and left demolition first approaches behind. How amazing to think what we could build here, to actually make this city unique!
    With or without the skyway – we have waterfront access.

  • whatever

    Opps, thanks grad.
    The ratio is correct of 3x as many cars/person as back then … but I goofed by forgetting decimal points when writing those numbers.
    In cars/person, it would be 0.280 in 1950 and 0.840 in 2008.
    The energy.gov chart my previous comment linked looks like it says 280 cars per thousand Americans in 1950, and 840 cars per thousand Americans in 2008.

  • JohnMarko

    Regarding the lift bridge/boat/auto traffic delay issue:
    Couldn’t the businesses that currently use shipping be either forced or convinced to schedule the ship arrivals/departures for the middle of the night/early morning hours when fewer cars are traversing the route to/from the southtowns? It would seem a no brainer. Ships do not have to arrive/depart during rush hours since they stay for days at a time anyway.
    Regarding the route 5 reconstruction:
    Maybe the elevated reconstruction was done to to facilitate current traffic? It would be unwise to let the roadway just rot until a final solution to demolition was accomplished whether the skyway was removed or not.
    I too liked the views when driving to/from the southtowns to the city, but, like San Fran and other cities, the results from elevated highway removal far outweigh keeping the elevated route. The benefits to the cities involved were numerous. A nice waterfront boulevard with enhanced but limited access points to adjacent properties seems to be the best solution like those proposed for the Scajaquada.

  • RoyUnderwood

    Worrying about traffic congestion in downtown Buffalo is like worrying about snow removal in downtown Los Angeles. Really, get some perspective. There are so many viable options to get people out of downtown Buffalo in a timely manner other than the Skyway. It just takes some creativity and millions of dollars. Higgins is right. He’s a good, progressive leader. I trust his decisions and I support him. But that’s just me.

  • Lukia Costello

    Just curious, what would a partial of full demo cost? shouldn’t that cost play into whatever decision is made?
    Would it even be possible to keep a portion and convert it to a ‘Highline’ type attraction (which is amazingly lovely, by the way)?

  • SiDC

    WNY has some of the best commute times in the country. Yes, alot of it is because people have left the region in droves (myself included) but it’s also because there are several ways to get downtown. You really don’t want to start limiting that in anyway and forcing people to take another major artery. Trust me, it doesn’t work out well. I live in Northern Virginia and there is only one way to get into DC….95 and it is an albatross. You start pushing people to use surface roads then you are going to cause multitude of problems.
    I agree that the Skyway is a dinosaur but you can’t just get rid of that type of access altogether. A more efficient plan needs to be developed to keep that viable option to access the city from the south.

  • RPreskop

    Congressman Higgens is dead wrong for pressuring the NYSDOT to remove the skyway because at the present time, the downtown waterfront is safe and accessible from downtown. The heavy traffic of NY Route 5 is separated and kept away from pedestrians and cyclists. A grade level 30 MPH parkway or boulevard is a horrendous idea and a safety nightmare for pedestrians and cyclists because they would have to cross a busy grade level thoroughfare with a drawbridge over the Buffalo River which is an even dumber more unviable idea. Traffic congestion along with auto exaust would make Canalside a very undesireable and noisy place. The only workable replacement for the skyway would be a vehicualr tunnel underneath both Canalside and the Buffalo River. You have to keep the heavy traffic separated from pedestrians in order for Canalside to continue their success.

  • Linksfiend