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Removal of Skyway Ends Outer Harbor Debate

Editorial by Michael Kearns – NYS Assembly 142nd District:

All Western New Yorkers and taxpayers have a stake in the development of the Outer Harbor areas. The City of Buffalo can no longer afford to have prime waterfront real-estate continue to sit idle, underutilized and unimproved for another half century. We need to grow our tax base and removal of the Skyway would add value to these underutilized acres and would create valuable opportunities for development. Additionally removal would create a waterfront with public access, tourism, and more recreational opportunities.

Buffalo has always been a waterfront city but Buffalo’s waterfront fortunes changed in 1955 with the addition of the Skyway Bridge over the Buffalo River. The following year in 1956, the City of Buffalo transferred certain real property to the Niagara Frontier Port Authority the predecessor of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA). Our community’s experience with ill-fated waterfront development proposals has demonstrated the need for true community driven planning and comprehensive analysis.

The cities of New York, Syracuse and Rochester are evaluating options for removal of elevated highways that are highly restrictive and limits space for development. At an Urban Freeways Summit this past year in Albany they described their goal for all of these cities including Buffalo, “to replace a highway that currently divides a community with a roadway that re-connects neighborhoods and helps bring vitality to the area”. Recently the Congress for New Urbanism named the Skyway one of the 10 “Freeways Without Future”.

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) rates the Skyway bridge as “fracture critical” and according to a (NYSDOT) Skyway Management Study, the “Bridge Preservation Option” with concrete overlay will cost taxpayers’ $42 million over a 20 year period. I had the opportunity to meet with (NYSDOT) Commissioner Joan McDonald in Albany and she has directed her office to conduct a plausibility review of the route. Even the Federal Highway Administration has commented on the only bridge in New York State that will close each year due to inclement weather by classifying the bridge as “functionally obsolete”.

Buffalo’s waterfront has historically been used for industrial and municipal uses. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has conducted investigations to determine what areas of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor are contaminated. According to NYSDEC fact sheet, the site is the result of filling activities which occurred over the past 100 years including “primarily incinerator ash, casting sands, blast furnace slag, dredged lake soils, and miscellaneous construction and demolition debris consisting of concrete, brick and wood.” The transition from contaminated acres to public access is paramount to Buffalo’s future.

Until the New York State Department of Transportation demonstrates the will, vision and or funding necessary to effectively evaluate and study the removal of the Skyway Bridge, we will continue to debate Buffalo’s Outer Harbor into the forcible future. Whatever plan you support for Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, with the removal of the Skyway Bridge you can have the best both plans including public access to the water and development.

Image: WNY Heritage Press

 

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • 5to81allday

    i once read an article 3 years ago on BRO about them conducting a Skyway study.  Still nothing….

  • runner68

    5to81allday Must be hiding the results of the study then..It might’ve concluded something they don’t want to hear…removal.
    Or possibly the study was never commissioned for fear that the result would point to removal.

  • runner68

    Wait…is this a politician in Buffalo with some sort of vision…
    This must be Bizarro World.
    (The ball is now in your court, Byron, Higgins, etc.)

  • 5to81allday

    runner68 5to81allday its going to get removed regardless at some point.  It completely slices off the city and greatly disrupts Canalside and Outerharbor development.

  • nubflo

    Every time I look at the view from the Erie Canal Harbor Cam, I sigh. The Skyway is disheartening.
    http://www.earthcam.com/clients/erie/

  • scribs6

    Sorry runner68, it more then likely is the opposite. Both Higgins and Kennedy plus a whole slew of aria politicians have called for the skyway to be removed. I have a hard time believing that if the study had concluded that the skyway needs to go, that Cumo would not have already been up hear for a big pr release. What likely is going on is that the Dot/Cumo are delaying the study in order to give Buffalo more time to complete projects such as the Ohio street revamp and the proposed Outer Harbor bridge so that removal would be more feasible.

  • FarFromHome

    When my family and I moved here in 2002 I couldn’t believe how underwhelming the waterfront in the Buffalo was, and in some aspects continues to be.
    My husband was in the United States Coast Guard for 23 years so we had always lived places that had thriving waterfronts. While I was absolutely stunned, and continue to be, by the beauty and depth of Lake Erie, I find the waterfront still lacking. It’s hard to believe that w/such beautiful views, it is difficult to find a good restaurant with a view. The views are always, always stunning. A few weeks ago, my husband and I watched a storm roll in while seated at Dug’s Dive deck.
    I agree that the Skyway is an abysmal mess. While it serves a HUGE purpose, it presents an unattractive view of both the city and the waterfront. However, driving in every morning, I relish the view of downtown w/church steeples rising up. And the view of the Bisons field driving onto Elm is beautiful. I have enjoyed many afternoons and evenings at Canalside looking up to the Skyway to watch the vehicles speed past. 
    Until there is actually a valid plan in place that would re-route commuters into the city, I don’t mind my commute. Anyone who drives the Skyway knows at this time, there is no feasible alternative. If you’ve ever traveled the snow routes when the Skyway is closed, you understand.

  • hjames27

    Public access? Really? The people most vocal about the Skyways removal are the ones that stand to profit the most from the land it sits on as the area under it now is “public” space. Only in Buffalo would a bridge that you can walk under, that keeps the road noise away from events around it and connects the city to the outer harbor, be seen as bad. $42 million over 20 years? Well the proposals for alternate routes have all been in the $100s of millions and that is just for construction not upkeep over 20 years. Just to take it down will be in the $10s of millions. Let’s see a feasible, fast and reliable alternate route first, instead of doing the typical jump the gun gut response that has always landed Buffalo in trouble in the past. Also the Skyway is not shutdown any more than the 90 is weather related reason and the last time I checked no one has ever been stuck in their car on it for a few days due to closings.

  • LouisTully

    FarFromHome Good comment.  Best thing to do for now is make the best of it.  Get some lighting on it and make it lipstick on a pig.  Lighting makes the Peace Bridge look very attractive.

  • townline

    LouisTully FarFromHome The Peace Bridge is already attractive without lighting.

  • scribs6

    So everyone else on this thread stands to make a profit off of the skyway removal? It’s not like only 1% of the city wants to tear it down. There is a very sizable amount of people who want it gone. Also prove your stamens with fact, because a lot of what your saying is simply not true.

  • LouisTully

    townline LouisTully FarFromHome I don’t know how unanimous that is.  But I’ll amend my comment:  Lighting makes the Peace Bridge look more attractive.

  • You can thank Brian Higgins for folding on the Parkway plan on the Outer Harbor and then endorse ripping out the highway along the waterfront (route 5) and then putting it back in with new bridges, this insurers the Skyway will not be removed. If it was removed what would feed this boondoggle? The Skyway really is not the problem at this point, things can be built around and under it. The biggest problem is the I-190 it cuts Downtown off from its Waterfront lets bury it from Church Street to Exchange Street or even Michigan Avenue, that would be a game changer.

  • hjames27

    Which part would you like proven with fact?
    “removal costs have been estimated at $20 to $25 million.” ~NYS DOT Taken from this website.
    http://rising.wpengine.com/2013/05/the-skyways-the-limit/
    “a pedestrian-friendly bridge to the outer harbor could be built for around $75 million.”  This does not inclued the average of 43,400 vehicles daily travel that route daily that will need an alternate.
    http://www.buffalonews.com/opinion/buffalo-news-editorials/removing-the-ugly-expensive-skyway-would-be-huge-boost-for-the-waterfront-20140214

  • scribs6

    Do you really need to ask? Look at this thread and you will see that it’s your first 5 lines. None of that is true. Thank you though for providing evidence for the rest of your argument though.

  • BuffaloGals

    If its inconvenient for you to get to the city center (the main argument for keeping the skyway of course is getting people from the Southtowns to Downtown), then that’s your problem, not the city’s.

  • hjames27

    “Over a three-year reporting period, from October 2003 to December 2006, weather closed the Skyway in both directions four times.”  NYS DOT 2008 Study
    “Rehabilitation of the bridge for a 75-year life would cost $71,576,000” NYS DOT 2008 Study
    “The Skyway is protected by a moisture-curing, urethane paint system and, with a typical life expectancy, would not require “spot and zone” repairs and a maintenance overcoat before 2020” NYS DOT 2008 Study
    “The Skyway is currently in good condition.” NYS DOT 2008 Study
    https://www.dot.ny.gov/news/press-releases/2008/2008-11-20

  • biniszkiewicz

    BuffaloGals
    “If its inconvenient for you to get to the city center then that’s your problem, not the city’s.”:
    no, that’s also the city’s problem, gals. If it’s too inconvenient to access downtown from the south, then fewer companies will locate downtown. Don’t kill the golden goose.

  • amadori michael

    urbanBFLO I 100% agree.  The I-190 is way more of a wall than the skyway.  It
    completely cuts off downtown from the Sabres arena, the casino, and the
    Buffalo Erie Basin Marina.  It’s dark, loud, and scary under the I-190 too. 

    I like the skyway.  Great views, quick access to the city.  It is not cutting off the outer harbor as people seem to think.

  • ImissBuffalo

    I think the idea of it becoming buffalos “high line” should be explored. Remove almost the entire thing, and just leave the skyway standing where it crosses the buffalo river, connecting canalside with the outer harbor. Add a large stair way maybe it could wrap around the support beams?? And an elevator. On top would be a park like setting with rows of benches on both side to create unmatched views of the city and the sunset.   As for the re routing the road,  Split the traffic between ohio street, and have a road come where the skyway is now, have two lift bridges and have it run straight into main street.

  • buffalorr

    BuffaloGals–That’s really an uninformed and selfish comment. You must be one self absorbed chick.

  • buffalorr

    urbanBFLO–Amen to what you’ve just said. The 1-190 and it’s access ramps are a much bigger barrier that cuts off downtown from the waterfront and is continually being mistaken for being part of The Skyway. It’s not hard to get to the outer harbor by car via The Skyway. You drive over it until you see the Outer Harbor Drive exit sign, that simple. The Skyway allows traffic to flow over and past Canalside keeping the fumes high in the sky and muffles most of the noise. It also offers an incredible view of Western New York that has got to be one of the most amazing drives in the east. Thank you so much Brian Higgins for making sure that it will continue to be here for decades to come.

  • ExWNYer

    I’m sure that at the time that photo was taken, those drivers were loving the Skyway- it was a quick way in and out of the city.

  • biniszkiewicz

    This headline is odd. Did BR tag that as the title or Kearns?
    Even IF the Skyway were to be removed, who here imagines that would end debate about how to develop the outer harbor?

  • scribs6

    See nyc line’s comment.

  • biniszkiewicz

    ExWNYer
    “. . . those drivers were loving the Skyway- it was a quick way in and out of the city.”:
    some still like it for the same reason. Plus, the view is outstanding both directions. I’ll miss that view if it goes . . .

  • BuffaloGals

    biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals Its the city’s problem if you can’t get to the city center from elsewhere in the city, or even the first ring suburbs. But when you choose to live far away from the city and then find it inconvenient to get downtown, you can only blame yourself.

  • BuffaloGals

    biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals But I appreciate what you’re saying. My main point is that the city shouldn’t sacrifice its waterfront so that Joe in Hamburg can get downtown as fast as he sees fit.

  • Buffaboy

    Why can’t they move Route 5’s limited access corridor from where it is now to following along the rail corridor to the east? The make a junction at I-190 that would take the rest of traffic downtown, points east and northwest.

  • runner68

    nyc lines buffalorr Agreed. I’ve concluded that it’s not the 190 that screws everything up, its the Skyway and the ramps that lead to/from the 190. Take a look. Those ramps eat up a huge amount of space. The Skyway is what rips Upper/Lower Terrace in half. The 190, in my opinion, skirts along some arreas and at most covers some. It does not block anything as the Skyway does. The Skyway is whats holding up private development on those Canalside lots, and it also ruins any possibility of developing any land adjacent to the City Ship Canal. 
    And lastly, without the 190, the Skyway would be useless. Lets get rid of the Skyway first, and then talk about the 190.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–Noisy under The Skyway? I’m always amazed at how quiet it is underneath The Skyway when you consider how much truck traffic flows over it. Sit on one of the brightly painted chairs at Canalside and see how many large semi’s flow overhead and you soon understand what it would be like if this were surface traffic not to mention having to breath the fumes. Not only does the Skyway facilitate truck traffic but it also gives South Towns residents a direct route into the city, something that’s vital to Buffalo’s economic health along with easy access to Lake Erie’s Parks and Beaches that Buffalo and the northern suburbs utilize. I think many on this site don’t realize how vital a transportation link the Skyway really is.

  • biniszkiewicz

    BuffaloGals biniszkiewicz
    That shoe fits both feet. If you choose to make yourself inconvenient for others to get to, they’ll come visit you less often and you’ll only have yourself to blame, too.
    Before downtown arbitrarily inconveniences its daily inhabitants and occasional visitors, let’s take a good look at what the traffic alternatives will be. Let’s see the plan.
    Some argue the Skyway’s removal will result in robust and attractive waterfront development outweighing any commuter inconvenience brought about by the changes. Others are less persuaded about the net effect of the bridge’s removal on downtown generally. The lack of any post-Skyway plan is a considerable obstacle to winning more minds to ‘the-tear-it down-crowd’ (just teasing, you anti auto crowd).

  • Buffaboy That was on the drawing board it was called the South-town Connector, it was to follow the railroad right of way, which was canned and repackaged by our buddy Brian Higgins as a redo of route 5 highway along the Outer Harbor.

  • BuffaloGals

    biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals I agree. I’m not anti-auto (that is, I’m not STEEL flipping out about a gas station turning into a gas station on Elmwood); but I am anti-pandering to the southtowns at the expense of the city. There obviously needs to be an alternative, but if that alternative that opens up the waterfront is somewhat inconvenient to people who chose to live far outside the city, then I have no problem with that.

  • Soccerdude5719

    The bridge from canal side is going to be necessary with or without the skyway. We will need access from canal side to the outer harbor for pedestrian and likely some vehicle access depending on how the plans shape up. The skyway is more about getting vehicles from the city to the route 5 heading south and doesn’t provide quick or convienant access.

  • Gobills716

    @hjames27…Canalside would be 100x nicer if the skyway was removed. Removing the skyway would also free up a great deal of land for future development. That’s future development that the city, county, and state can collect taxes from.

  • buffalorr

    I thought that too at first but one day I decided to walk under these ramps in that area as much as is possible and saw that most are feeding into or leading away from the 190.

  • grovercleveland

    Anytime a business wants to pick their own destiny with building a new building where an existing building exists. You hear cries of “infill, infill”
    yet never when it comes to tearing down the skyway, which is used by people to get into the city.
    If the sky way was a crappy old building, maybe people wouldn’t be able to tear it down. But since people who dont abhor cars use it, it has to go.
    Until all these parking lots are filled up, there should be no demolition. See what I did there?

  • greenca

    biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals
    Isn’t he tear-down crowd like the parking lot gang?

  • grovercleveland

    If you support demolition of this heavily used roadway, you support empty parking lots.
    At least thats what I’m told when Delaware North wants to build a new building where a piece of crap used to sit.

  • grovercleveland

    People bemoan the loss of old crappy buildings on here all the time and wonder why developers cant find parking lots to build on.
    Here, we have a highway that is actually used by a large amount of people, yet I hear no one suggest developers find an empty parking lot to build on. I would suggest its because there is a strange obsession with only conducting development that hurts people who drive cars

  • Assemblyman Kearns — Please run for County Executive!

  • Buffaboy

    urbanBFLO Buffaboy well they need to bring it back…

  • Jtown

    Want to get at least 50 comments on a BRO article….put Skyway in the heading!

  • runner68 5to81allday That’s what I’ve suspected for quite a while. It seems like the DOT is skiddish about any major study that doesn’t feed their freeway fetish.

  • ImissBuffalo

    And this new area would be absolutely amazing spot for the light show on the silos across the water and for fireworks on the 4th

  • LouisTully

    Jtown Or Dog e Style. Or Grain Silos Not painted Uber-Trendy.

  • grassy roofs

    When will a politician start harping on building the other bridge that will make the sky way expendable. They must have studied that by now.

  • This is becoming another problem where people are putting the cart in front of the horse. The object here is not how people in the Southtowns can get into the city, since the Southtowns seem to be a world of its own. But rather, how people in the CITY can get to the Outer Harbor. 
    Buffalo can live without this Skyway. It is people who drive this economy, not cars.

  • whateverr

    biniszkiewicz
    Looks to me that Kearns is at least implying that somehow in his last paragraph above.  His first sentence of that paragraph looks incoherent (as I also thought he often seemed during his very weak campaign vs. Byron Brown in ’09).  His second sentence doesn’t look much better, nor is it grammatical as currently written.  
    Just for fun, I’ll copy/paste here exactly as it reads at the moment – maybe he’ll edit to clean it up at some point.
    MK> ‘Until the New York State Department of Transportation demonstrates the will, vision and or funding necessary to effectively evaluate and study the removal of the Skyway Bridge, we will continue to debate Buffalo’s Outer Harbor into the forcible future.Whatever plan you support for Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, with the removal of the Skyway Bridge you can have the best both plans including public access to the water and development.’

  • whateverr

    biniszkiewicz
    (I won’t even mock his possible spellchecking mishap with ‘forcible future’ at end of first sentence.  Or that might be a Freudian slip for an Albany politician!)

  • Crisaagain

    Why would anyone dream vehicle-less dreams??? Even the most headstrong developers know cars aren’t going away! 
    I remember before the Skyway when the land it overpasses was desolate, stinkily industrial and, the automobile-necessitating burbs were a twinkle in Ryan Homes’ and other developers eyes.  The Skyway was built to move suburbanites from home to job and back out again up, up and away from all that arid ugliness.
    That Skyway still serves its original purpose well today, but, the land beneath it finally has become a people-positive destination,  (EXCLUDING PRIVATE HOUSING), for ALL the people and other creatures and the trees to come together and be comfily far removed from that traffic in the Sky… Keep it that way!  It finally works every which way…
    Off Topic:  This is simply me remembering something that happened a little while ago that feels as if it has some sort of significance, although I don’t know what:  We were heading north on the comfortably traffic-free Fuhrmann Blvd. beneath the fast paced Skyway.  That was nice!  Lots of traffic up above, none below on a beautiful day at the waterfront.  Then we noticed south bound traffic up above us becoming seriously backed up. (There was a minor guardrail-meets-car accident on the Skyway.) 
    In the 15 minutes it took us to be heading south again on the Boulevard,  the traffic on the Skyway was beginning to move along again, but now the traffic on Fuhrmann was jammed and crawling with Skyway traffic!!!   That was nice too though because people who would have been up above moving fast were now able to enjoy the view up closer and wayyy slower!! 
    Okay, so it was a forced viewing.  But they got to see the Coast Guard Station,  and that area where houses would not work but nature fits quite well, including Times Beach, and some talked-about silos, and what will soon be Buffalo Outer Harbor State Park, and Dug’s Dive, which is a nice place and the only eatery, and many boats being readied for winter, and Gallagher Pier, and the Tift Street Pier, and/or even the Tift Nature Preserve,,, depending which turn off they chose…  Traffic permitted that folks got to see up close what is happening in that area, instead of simply reading about it.

  • Crisaagain

    Mr. and Mrs. Pagula:  Do you have a non-residential interest in the Outer Harbor?

  • biniszkiewicz

    Brad J Bethel Jr
    “The object here is not how people in the Southtowns can get into the city, since the Southtowns seem to be a world of its own.”

    No, it is indeed a prime objective to get Southtowners into the city, and for good reason. Those commuters come downtown for jobs and entertainment. The Southtowns are no ‘world of their own’. Tens of thousands of people driving those cars come into our very own burgh each and every workday for the purpose of employment. Shut them out and watch as businesses choose to locate elsewhere than downtown. Pay no heed to them and we cut our nose off to spite our face. 
    You act as though those commuters have no positive impact on Buffalo, and that stance is simply mistaken at best.

  • PhilWaclawski

    urbanBFLO I would tend to agree with you here.  I’m looking at Google Maps to go along with the numerous times I’ve been down there – I don’t see it. 
    “The Skyway is impeding development”:  The Harborcenter; reuse of the Donovan building; Liberty Hound; Canalside with the new ice skating ‘locks’. 
    Seems to me the most investment that this city has seen has come directly next to / near the skyway.  If I had to go around the entire south towns to get to the outer harbor, I might a few times, but not as often as I do now – really depends on the event. 
    I completely agree with the I-190 idea, putting a cover on it and developing on top.  I believe someone posted on here a while back an example of where that was done before.

  • rockpile38

    If you were to ask me 5 years ago if the Skyway should be removed, the answer would have been a resounding yes. Do to the aftermath of the Bass Pro debacle, I really felt that the SW was a major obstacle for development at CS. I was wrong, now that there is major investment and building going all around CS, I actually have to do a complete 180 on the ounce personally dreaded SW. Not only does it act as an already connecter to the OH, but it’s actually well designed & aesthetically cool to look at when down there, giving another active city element. Let’s build a state of the art pedestrian/bike bridge to the OH and direct traffic over with what’s already in place, the Skyway! There’s plenty of more development coming to CS as well as all the potential in the Cobblestone District, Outer Harbor ,DT, more residential around Erie Basin Marina, and maybe even a brand new LaSalle Park in 6/8 years!

  • biniszkiewicz Brad J Bethel Jr The Skyway has made absolutely no contribution to the city, because jobs had been leaving downtown in all the years since it’s been built. And it has never contributed to waterfront development in any sort of way.
    The notion that Buffalo’s economy is dependent on the Southtown commute is ridiculous.

  • rockpile38

    nyc lines            Development is coming to the Aud Block! Remember no one said there was going to be any retail at CS just a few months ago, now a number of smaller retailers are planned for HC and perhaps the connecting wing off the arena. Now you’re going to respond by saying there are no prospects for retail at the Aud Block right, when that is simply not true. There is enough investment and momentum down there to have local and national retail elements at CS. But personally I don’t think the Aud Block/CS is the end all be all for retail & entertainment in DT Buffalo, there’s plenty of potential for more sustainable pockets for major mixed use development in the examples I gave, it just takes time and smart planning from all sectors, much like what we are seeing now. The Skyway is no longer a problem other than it’s safety issues during those extreme winter days. If anything I would like to invest in it to make it safer.

  • David Steele

    Didn’t the state just spend $50,000,000 building an brand new highway leading up to this bridge?

  • LouisTully

    A couple, brief thoughts:
    -Accessing the outer harbor is a little silly.  You can see it a few hundred yards across from Canalside, but you have to take a 15 minute automobile trip to get there.  Should there be a better access route?  Probably.  Would it have a generally positive impact?  Probably.
    -The Skyway is a detriment to development in many fundamental ways.  I imagine it would fit perfectly with several Jane Jacobs’ principles.  However, as it stands, development is happening in this immediate vicinity despite the Skyway.  And any of the plans for further development do not hinge on its removal.  So…
    Goes back to the first point.  Would it be better without it?  Maybe.  But it’s there and at the moment it doesn’t appear to be stopping development or patrons.

  • 300miles

    grovercleveland  Generally speaking when comparing a “crappy old building” to a freeway, infrastructure is not architecture.   It’s a bridge getting cars from point A to point B.  You can’t live, work, or play on the skyway.  You can’t walk on it… it’s not even pleasant to walk near.  You can’t build under it or on it.  It’s a utilitarian piece of infrastructure with one single purpose: auto traffic;  an elevated road that leaves land underneath it largely unusable.   That’s not to say that a bridge would never have historical attributes making it worthy of saving, but something like the skyway is a utilitarian freeway which was built during a time when nobody could imagine anyone actually wanting to develop commercial or residential buildings on the harbor.   If they are now considering that it needs $40 million to maintain it, and the land underneath it could be valuable for real development, then a discussion about whether to keep it seems reasonable and not just some obsession of bike-riding car-hating hipsters.

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz Brad J Bethel Jr
    “. . .  [tearing down the skyway] adds 2 minutes to your commute.”
    I love how people who want to dismantle highways completely make up ridiculous figures for how much time will be added to one’s trip. 2 minutes??? Ha!! It’s that much time minimum at each and every traffic light. Take down the skyway and try to channel tens of thousands of cars through Ohio Street and you’re looking at 15 extra minutes MINIMUM every rush hour, just for those 2 miles.
    “since the skyway was built, the city has done nothing but bleed jobs and people.”:
    ludicrous. Tell us, nyc, the reasons for Buffalo’s decline. Surely the St. Lawrence Seaway, the sunbelt tax climate and foreign manufacturing had not a thing to do with Buffalo’s population losses, right? Imbecilic. The Skyway has indeed done a great deal to keep downtown afloat over the past half century.

  • biniszkiewicz

    Brad J Bethel Jr biniszkiewicz
    “The Skyway has made absolutely no contribution to the city, because jobs had been leaving downtown in all the years since it’s been built”
    ridiculous and factually as wrong as it could be. What are you, like 25? You have no memory of Buffalo in the ’70s?
    Downtown has managed to hang in there and indeed thrive despite drops in population caused by taxes, weather, foreign competition, the St. Lawrence Seaway. We were certainly not the only ‘Rust Belt’ city in America. For population losses, see: Pittsburgh, Philly, Cleveland, etc., etc.
    Yes, the Skyway does indeed contribute to downtown as evidenced by tens of thousands of commuters traversing its length daily.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines-Development to the west side of Main St? The Skyway is really nowhere near Main St. and anything west of Main is doing fine. Are you sure it’s the Skyway your thinking about and not the 1-190 running west of Niagara St. ?

  • buffalorr

    Bini—Thank God a voice of reason and well stated! To say that The Skyway has contributed to Buffalo’s decline is as you’ve accurately described “ludicrous”. It’s hard to believe that anyone thinking this knows anything about the history of Buffalo and other northeastern cities reasons for decline. The constant dismissal by some on this site of “the suburbs” is also ludicrous. The suburbs hold over 75% of Western New York’s population and without them Buffalo would barely exist. The “suburbs” are not an alien no man’s land. They are real people who work, play, have children, relatives, houses of worship and other strong ties to the city and vice-versa. I keep reading about the “urban snobbism” towards the suburbs that many harbor and some posting here on BR are perfect examples of that attitude.

  • KellyMaurer

    nyc lines buffalorr The skyway did not always hook up with the 190 like is does now.  Perhaps that’s the problem – unhook it from the 190 – it comes down gracefully to Delaware.  That would free up all the ramp space.

  • KellyMaurer

    nyc lines buffalorr LIFT BRIDGE!!!  Have you ever been stuck when a lift bridge is up?  There are few traffic blockages that suck as much as being stuck at a lift bridge.  It can take as much as 20 minutes, often longer, to get a ship through a lift bridge.  Not a good mix with a commute.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–Canalside is now being built right next to it along with Harbor Center and a new high-rise hotel. The park underneath it is now the most heavily used green space in Buffalo during summer months. Boats glide unimpeded underneath it. The Skyway allows traffic to pass smoothly in and out of the city while at the same time opening up a large amount of space that would otherwise have been paved over by surface access roads had it not been built.

  • abinotwo

    Amen brother! Very well written. What a benefit to the community it would be to remove the skyway.

  • grovercleveland

    Anyone who says it will add “2 minutes” should be forced to drive on main st. in williamsville at rush hour. It typically takes 30 minutes to drive 1 mile

  • biniszkiewicz

    grovercleveland
    “It typically takes 30 minutes to drive 1 mile”
    that’s what I’m talking about. One traffic light can add ten minutes (2-3 minutes per cycle; in rush hour it can take 3-4 cycles to get through that single intersection).

  • townline

    LouisTully No development is happening beneath or really all that close to the skyway.  Its across main street.  Nothing has happened on the historic blocks of ECH, which is the land the skyway cuts through.  It most certainly has significant impacts on the development prospects of the area.

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz Brad J Bethel Jr
    re: “. . . when almost nothing but the economic decline of downtown has occurred since construction . . .”
    Oh, come on! A) Have you been downtown in the last 20 years? Do you know what Chippewa and Main looked like in the 70s? Have you seen photos of Buffalo from the late 50s, early 60s? No progress and only economic decline since the Skyway?? Please! I was here to witness it from the 60s on.
    Before you all bring up the shopping, here’s a news flash: downtowns nationwide lost their retailers. Sad, but true. Malls got invented. C’est la vie. People left city centers. Everywhere. Not just Buffalo. Not just city centers with highways. Everywhere, including even San Fran and Manhattan and certainly the Bronx and other boroughs, not to mention all the 2nd and 3rd and 4th tier cities. People left cities because they could drive to clean, nice, private homes with a nice yard and a nice school. That woulda happened with or without the Skyway. It happened everywhere.
    Many downtowns died. Ours has held in there better than many and is poised for more happy resurgence. The Skyway has not hurt downtown. 
    If you want to make the case for its removal, show us the plan for traffic. A draw bridge won’t cut it.

  • FarFromHome

    Have you been to Canalside lately? The amount of progress occuring there is amazing! Rmoving the skyway, for the sole purpose of developing Canalside makes no sense. Other than removing the supports, it would add very little land space.
    W/the addition of the new Harborside, that will add the one component that has been missing, a winter destination!! I am looking forward to the Fall festival this weekend so that i can see it.

  • townline

    buffalorr I think you need to introduce yourself to aerial photographs and look at canalside.  I recommend maps.google.com

  • biniszkiewicz

    Show us that street grid as it crosses the Buffalo River. How many draw bridges do you propose? At what cost?

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz Brad J Bethel Jr
    do you commute in Buffalo?? Do you live in Buffalo? Show me how your street grid will connect to the south shore of the Buffalo River.
    A draw bridge will cut it??? Have you ever sat there on the Ohio street bridge waiting for a ship to go through?? 30 minutes!

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz
    yeah, and one giant traffic mess. 
    Tell me about the Tift Street Connector: how does this beast function to cross the Buffalo River?
    You assert that one draw bridge will replace the Skyway’s 50k cars a day? I’m sorry, but it won’t.

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz Brad J Bethel Jr
    “has not helped nor hurt… thank you for more clarification.”
    nice try, but wrong again. 
    Yes, the Skyway and other highways into downtown have certainly helped downtown survive these past several decades. Easy commutes are what saved our downtown when many of similar size were dying, because they kept regional commuters coming into the city core day in day out for decades. Yes it helped.
    Downtown’s health today certainly isn’t because of the people living there–they’re a drop in the bucket. No large food stores or retailers are back yet because too few people live downtown still. What carried downtown through the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90, 00s?? Offices! Offices populated by people who did not live downtown!

  • bufforward

    LouisTully townline FarFromHome I don’t find the peace bridge attractive at all during the day- it’s a big, basic, utilitarian bridge. At night, the lights add visual appeal and it makes a huge difference.

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz
    do you live in Buffalo? Haven’t you traveled the Skyway?? You do know it doesn’t move as slowly as Main Street in Williamsville, right?

  • LouisTully

    townline LouisTully But aside from the Aud Block and the Erie Canal Harbor parcels on the east of the Skyway, I don’t think the remaining land of those parcels should be developed.  The Erie Canal Harbor Parcel in the Canalside district is what makes up much (all?) of the green space.  The three sections between Prime Street and the Skyway, bounded between Lloyd and Perry, are where the concerts are and should remain public access free of development whether or not something like concerts continue here.  Just my thought.  So, with that, development continues despite the Skyway.

  • LouisTully

    townline LouisTully

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz Brad J Bethel Jr
    Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Binghampton, Utica, Niagara Falls and every smaller city in NYS, Detroit, Camden, Atlantic City, Birmingham (AL), off the top of my head.

  • townline

    LouisTully townline Everything East of Prime/Lloyd should be developed, which the skyway cuts directly over.  West of prime greenspace is more debatable and could be left open space to accommodate your concerts.  Ultimately I believe that the intention is for large scale concerts to no longer be down there – perhaps moved to the outer harbor.

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz
    how often do you drive the Skyway and I-90 to and from downtown?

  • JoeDoherty

    LouisTully Well said. It’s refreshing to read objective posts on here as opposed to the jaded pessimism I usually see. 
    I keep getting caught up on aesthetics, not dollars and cents. My wife and I took our kids to Canalside a lot this summer. Every time, whether it was for the artisan market or a concert, I couldn’t help but focus on the grey monstrosity that screams “Old Buffalo.” Perception counts for the something.

  • The last time I checked, the Southtown commuters were not the kings of this city. The people who are actually investing in current waterfront redevelopment, as well as city residents have a higher priority over those who merely come in for their day jobs then leave when they’re done. Nowhere in your “status quo” rhetoric do you begin to mention how the Skyway directly contributes to the waterfront, which as far as I’m concerned, is another contrived detour between sections of the waterfront that are literally feet away from each other.
    Saying that the Skyway should stay based from its role in the past distracts from its role today. TODAY, the structure is considered an impediment to the area surrounding it, and based from the analysis of both the DOT and the Federal Highway Administration is considered obsolete.

  • ImissBuffalo Wow, I never thought about that. How cool would that be!?

  • biniszkiewicz

    Brad J Bethel Jr
    re: “based from the analysis of both the DOT and the Federal Highway Administration is considered obsolete.”
    and yet the DOT recommends it be kept in place, Brad. Explain that.
    I disagree that the Skyway is impeding progress. That’s your opinion.

  • pro-skyway argument summarized: we have to keep it so that southtowns residents can conveniently export paychecks earned in buffalo.

  • jibreelk

    David Steele it made for great bike rides when Route 5 was under construction

  • jibreelk

    biniszkiewicz Brad J Bethel Jr urbansim doesn’t work that way and I’m not going to sit here and explain why

  • jibreelk

    This should be a no brainer but the atypical WNYer believes in an autocentric urbanism that is quite foreign to the region. Critical mass says you can only have XYZ amount of cars within downtown Buffalo but the atypical WNYer thinks this is Los Angeles (or a low rent Tampa) and still believes in the urban planning of our grandparents that gave us the skyway (and many other genius ideas in urban planning like the Main Place Mall) thus expressing the need for why this urban freeway must remain when other urban freeways in similar locations have already fallen to the recking ball. 
    I rather be like San Francisco but the atypical Western New Yorker is content on the Sunbelt Model for cities because they think it works. 
    p.s. Downtown Buffalo is overrated

  • FarFromHome

    I’m not sure where you are referring to – do you mean the area where the concerts are held?

  • FarFromHome

    None of these routes are designed for rush hour traffic or traffic in general. These routes might look good on paper but are a disaster anytime traffic if diverted from the Skyway.
    To utilize Ohio, you also have to utilize Fuhrman which closes quite often during the winter.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    SHUT THE F UP MICKY KEARNS!

  • Whirlpool138

    I agree except for downtown Buffalo being overrated. Have you been to any other city around the same size as Buffalo? Almost all the major cities in Florida have basically non-existent downtown urban centers. It’s all suburban areas. People might knock Buffalo’s for being a ghost town at night, but atleast our’s has some great architecture and is growing. I rather take Buffalo’s than most southern cities downtown metro area.

  • jibreelk

    Whirlpool138 the sad irony the downtown you and I both enjoy the WNY wizards of smarts have better ideas for those old buildings as parking lots then these same wizards of smarts wonder why you can’t get a deli sandwich Downtown after 5pm, it doesn’t help if all the mixed use buildings were blown in the ground for another parking lot. 
    The Sunbelt Cities don’t believe in strong urban cores however there exist enough population to occupy both “downtown” and suburban job centers versus Buffalo (and upstate New York), our Upstate NY sprawl lobbies rather have all commercial business done in the burbs along with retail and housing. If you are one of the luck few that can get into downtown housing, enjoy but why live downtown (Buffalo) when all the cool amenities downtown Buffalo is missing MUST BE BUILT versus in many other Downtown U.S.A. there is still still buildings or something was built already. The WNY region missed out on a lot of development in the past 40 years and it shows. 
    I don’t hold out much hope just due to the fact the atypical WNYer has either lived, worked or visited the Sunbelt cities enough to assume that is what works thus they advocate for those same urban planning you’ll find in a sunbelt city. Buffalo is aiming for Portland, Or to only windup getting a low rent version of Birmingham, AL.

  • LouisTully

    nyc lines FarFromHome Those plans were put in place when the Webster Block was a parking lot, the Donovan Building had boarded up windows, Pegula hadn’t paid $100k for the city to put grass in, and the area where Canalside currently is was a ghost town any day of the week.  It’s a little different now.
    You can’t simply transplant from this spot to that one.  Get rid of the Skyway.  Move the green space for to the outer harbor.  Develop the parcel.  Now the people visiting Canalside can go to the green space we’ve given them on the outer harbor.  But we got rid of the Skyway.
    I think it’s important to be careful to not subtract from the positives.  It isn’t so easy to recreate successful spaces.  Canalside right now is successful; probably more successful than anyone imagined.  And it’s happening despite the Skyway.

  • FarFromHome

    Thanks for the pic! I couldn’t visualize the area you referred to.
    However, now seeing it and knowing that area, I can’t imagine losing that little bit of green space. Especially the first red area. I’ve actually had to park at that intersection to do free stuff at Canalside. The two smaller areas wouldn’t add very much of anything.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    buffalorr 
    “It also offers an incredible view of Western New York that has got to be one of the most amazing drives in the east.”
    Lol, hyperbole much.  It’s not even a great drive by WNY standards, thanks to the [remnants of] industry which dominates the landscape. 
    I agree with your overall stance on it, though.

  • FarFromHome

    @LouisTully – I agree. I didn’t know Canalside even existed until a few years ago when Flogging Molly preformed – I believe that was 2011?
    I’m not sure what it looked like before then but I have enjoyed the heck out of since.
    I do appreciate the new development there – the changes to the Hatch this season were delicious! Liberty Hound is doing a great job feeding visitors, too.
    I was disappointed initially that Bass Pro didn’t land in Buffalo, however, it would have detracted from the beautiful waterfront views!

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    townline LouisTully 
    Thursday concerts should be moved back to Lafayette Square.  Atmosphere was far superior to Canalside.  There’s also no discernible spillover post-Thursday Canalside concerts at nearby businesses, save perhaps Pearl Street, and in that case only modestly.  Outer Harbor is in the present moment cut off from everything else–I think the number of concerts currently held there (some larger events) is sufficient, for now anyway (pending future proceedings)

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    Brad J Bethel Jr biniszkiewicz 
    Correlation does not imply causation.

  • Matt Marcinkiewicz

    jibreelk Whirlpool138 Nice post.  If it were up to me we’d aim for Portland and hopefully end up with Portland. 
    Just a heads-up, you keep saying atypical when you mean typical.

  • biniszkiewicz

    grad94
    re: “pro-skyway argument summarized: we have to keep it so that southtowns residents can conveniently export paychecks earned in buffalo.”
    Come on, grad. You’re better than that. Want a more realistic translation? “We have to keep access easy for Southtown residents in order to keep those Southowners importing their jobs and entertainment into downtown instead of leaving their money and jobs in the Southtowns.”

  • FarFromHome

    I resmemble that remark and find that you paint w/a mighty full brush.
    Visit downtown during the work week and you find most of us patronizing small restaurants live elsewhere but choose to work in the city. Those are my dollars being spent five days a week in small Buffalo businesses.
    When I come into the city on the weekends it to support the theater district or the waterfront business. If you look around the more urban areas on Buffalo, these are not people who have the incorme or the desire to support Canalside, Harborside or downtown Buffalo.

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz grad94
    yeah. If you think replacing the Skyway with a draw bridge will do the trick then you are living in an imaginary world.
    Where specifically do you live?

  • BuffaloGals

    biniszkiewicz grad94 Entertainment maybe – but do we think employment opportunities are so plentiful in WNY that people from the Southtowns will pass up jobs in downtown Buffalo, and hope to find a job in Hamburg? Maybe I’m wrong (because I am just guessing), but I don’t think companies would leave downtown, or abort plans to move downtown, if the skyway was removed.

  • LouisTully

    nyc lines LouisTully FarFromHome Wait, it’s not successful?  I went to Canalside all summer long, and even on Wednesday mornings there was the type of activity I would call successful.  Saturdays the place was packed.  So, yeah, lawn chairs are successful.
    The vision you’re talking about was created some time ago.  It’s has evolved, surely, and it’s going to continue to evolve.  Development will probably happen and perhaps should happen.  But to treat the Erie Canal Harbor parcel and the use it sees as something that can simply be moved to the outer harbor and replicated is completely silly.
    To bring it back to the Skyway, it’s a bigger and more important issue than simply removing it and solving the problem as this headline alludes to.  As the area continues to grow it would stand to reason that the land the Skyway sits on would be too valuable for a controversial and oft-disliked bridge.
    I don’t even know what we’re arguing about.

  • LouisTully

    nyc lines LouisTully FarFromHome But the issue has been waterfront access.  It’s what everyone’s been clamoring for.  Now we have it, and it’s a great spot.  It’s ok to have public space.  There are many acres of surface parking to the east which can expand the tax base.
    Canalside is working.  Finish developing the Aud Block and someday, if the Skyway is removed, develop that land.  Who knows, there could be takers while the Skyway is there.  The Canalside Design Guidelines provides details for developing land where the Skyway sits so as to not interfere with DOT ROW.  The way I interpret the Design Guidelines their plans have always included development with the Skyway present.

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz grad94
    I see. So you don’t even live in town, much less commute to the Southtowns. Nevertheless, you’re an expert on our commutes. You’re ever so certain traffic will be no problem for us when we take the Skyway down. Got it.
    Tell me again about that ‘Tift Street Connector’ you mentioned. Where does that cross the river?

  • paulbuffalo

    BuffaloGals biniszkiewicz grad94
    BuffaloGals, that was one of my questions.  If the skyway is the life support of downtown, I’d like to know how many of the folks who travel the skyway daily are actually going downtown to work?  Aren’t many going to the suburbs to work, etc? What percentage of downtown workers are from areas not accessed by the skyway?
    San Francisco and Milwaukee removed selected elevated roadways.  Toronto has been seriously considering the validity of the Gardiner Expressway.  Manhattan didn’t suffer by not having Robert Moses’ proposed roadway cut through SoHo.  Vancouver hasn’t suffered from not having any expressways through the city core.  Syracuse is questioning the elevated roadway there, too.
    Is having the skyway for the benefit of southtowns commuters more valuable than removing the skyway to make the city of Buffalo a more compelling physical environment/experience for residents, commuters and visitors?

  • biniszkiewicz

    paulbuffalo BuffaloGals biniszkiewicz grad94
    a) I don’t agree that the experience for residents and commuters and visitors is in any way unappealing via the Skyway, nor that the experience would be more compelling in the Skyway’s absence. That view is fabulous. 
    b) All those other cities eliminating their elevated highways have nothing relating to crossing a river. The Buffalo River must be traversed, and shipping must be preserved underneath it. Is anyone advising St. Catherines to remove its bridge over the canal? Is anyone suggesting that the bridges on QE3 at Hamilton be removed? No. Why? Because you’ve got to get either over or under the water for the passage of ships. A draw bridge is an enormous inconvenience.

  • BuffaloGals

    biniszkiewicz paulbuffalo BuffaloGals grad94 For sure…what about over the railroad that Tift crosses over? Divert traffic down Tift, then follow the railroad to where it crosses the river near Riverbend and link with the 190 near Smith Street?

  • biniszkiewicz Brad J Bethel Jr The DOT is holding onto antiquated thinking that is now at risk of holding back Buffalo’s progress. They backed themselves into a corner with the Skyway, which was NEVER a highlight of this city’s legacy. 
    It’s not just my opinion, man. A fair number of city residents are ready for life without the Skyway, and a growing number of local politicians want it gone. Other cities have benefited from freeway removal projects. Ask anyone from San Francisco, Milwaukee, or Portland how horrible life has been without their expressways. 
    There’s more to the story than what’s best for Suburbia.

  • MartinKemp

    Instead of grouping the whole south into Florida which is actually NJ. Try visiting cities such as Charleston, Asheville, Savanna or Gatlinburg to name a few. All mid to small city’s, all with wonderful architecture and all wonderful to visit. In fact Asheville is a better road trip than Buffalo.

  • hjames27

    When the skyway was created almost everyone was coming from the city to work in Lackawanna. Now that it nolonger serves the “cities” purpose it should go? The 50,000 commuters just coming over the Skyway each day don’t matter? I work downtown and used to live in Days Park, when the crack house was on the corner in the 90s and shootings happened nightly. Now I could not afford to buy a place in that area, yet still would not want my kids going to city schools, so the suburbs it was. I think there are other issue besides taking down the Skyway and getting a Staduim within the city limits that need focus on first. Also taking the Skyway down would take away from the 20 minute city vibe. Might as well just remove the 190 and sell the property off to the highest bidder. 250,000 in the city and 750,000 around it with over 300,000 commuting in each day and again I ask, the suburbs don’t matter?

  • hjames27

    The engineers who designed it to bring workers to the steel plant designed it to last 200 years. We are ony a 1/4 into that and people with no understanding seem to think its about to fall down.

  • hjames27

    Should have built the parking ramps slated to go there?

  • hjames27

    This is the problem with Buffalo, very short sited. Remember this company Adelphia that found the canal building a parking ramp down there? So should we have built the parking ramps slated to go there? They wanted the Skyway down for that to.

  • HammerAndNail

    I live on the West Side, so the Skyway is of no tangible benefit to me, but I really can’t say that I hate it.  It has one of the best views in the City (a rare bird in a relatively flat place) and it looks pretty cool, in a 50’s futurist kind of way.  Also, it makes it much easier to access to Canalside by foot or bicycle, as you can casually walk under it.  A road route of some sort would have to replace it, and even the most well-designed boulevard would still be another road to cross.  As far as highways go, I find the Niagara St ramps for the 190 far more invasive and wasteful.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–You’ve finally written an accurate description of The Skyway–“an umbilical cord.”

  • buffalorr

    Those area’s could easily be developed with The Skyway in place. Look at what’s happened to the DUMBO area in NYC. Should the Brooklyn Bridge have been torn down for that to occur?

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–Those parking lots to the east will be one of the hottest area’s in a very short time especially with the Pegula’s purchase of the Bills and the likely possibility that a new stadium will be built being funded with a substantial amount of their money.

  • EricAndAl

    HammerAndNail  You’re right about the views – both of the city and the lake – New York did this and so should we –   http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/sep/22/final-stretch-new-york-high-line-complete

  • buffalorr

    Brad J Bethel Jr–If you think that south town commuters are the only ones using The Skyway then you’ve been badly misled. The Skyway is used as an important transportation route by trucking and industry. People living in the north towns and the City of Buffalo which you seem to think exists as an island unto itself also need it to commute to their jobs going away from Buffalo. Where did you get the idea that the city is the only place in Western New York that’s important when roughly 75% of Erie County residents live outside of it’s limits.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–“Smooth mov’ n Main Street in Williamsville is exactly the type of example that justifies the need for a link like The Skyway which allows traffic to move unimpeded.

  • townline

    LouisTully nyc lines FarFromHome Canalside’s success is 100% subsidized – its all programming that is paid for by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.  Even the concert series do not make money at this point.  The continuous vendor fairs, zumba summits, giant connect 4s, sandboxes, everything runs in the red at canalside.  All of the infrastructure at canalside and its upkeep is incredibly expensive.  This year, they are replacing many of the planks in the boardwalk – that all comes out of ECHDC’s pot of money, that eventually, runs out. If we get a new governor in a few years, the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation could instantly cease to exist and we would no longer have a programmer for the site.
    We need permanent development on Canalside to end that subsidy.  You need private businesses, restaurants, retail activity and residents to populate and activate the site. You need those developments to pay taxes to the city and state.   That is real growth.  Those sites NEED to be developed for Canalside to have permanent success.  The Skyway absolutely screws up the development value of those sites and severely limit the extent to which we can achieve the growth we NEED.
    Public space isn’t free, people.  Do we want our state to foot that bill in perpetuity?

  • buffalorr

    townline–“Do we want our state to foot that bill in perpetuity?”. We fund many things perpetually in New York State and doing so for a place that’s visited and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands annually isn’t the worst thing to be doing with our money. Just relax and enjoy it.

  • townline

    buffalorr That’s a smart comment…  Well I would also like this city and state to be able to afford to improve other public space, other streets, infrastructure, water access, etc…  
    And you seem to miss the point that eventually the money runs out.  ECHDC has an allocation from NYPA, but they do not generate revenue.  Eventually, the pot goes dry, the public programming ends and we’re left with a public space that has no dedicated funds to maintain and improve it.  Have you ever been to Fireman’s Park downtown?  Have you seen how well public spaces in downtown, in general, are maintained?  That’s the kind of space you end up with when the money runs out.
    And you would seriously prefer a giant lawn, across the street from another giant lawn on the central wharf and across the river from massive open space, over mixed-use urban infill development at this site?  Seriously?  Or do you just not have the vision to imagine it.

  • buffalorr

    townline–There’s not much of a reason to go to Fireman’s Park and most people don’t even know where it is unlike Canalside which is very high profile and schedules tons of activities. This myopic view that the lawns there are “massive” and the idea that the outer harbor is similar to the Grand Canyon in size is puzzling to me. You need to travel to places like Griffith Park in LA to see what a massive park in an urban area really is like and don’t bother mentioning how Buffalo is not LA. Buffalo could be a better place if we’d start thinking in bigger terms and not obsess about putting dinky buildings in tiny spots where they’re not needed. Development at Canalside will continue to take place and the funds to maintain it will be generated by it. Do you consider One Canalside side with a 700 car parking garage and 20 story mixed use complex development? Just be patient, there’s much more to come.

  • buffalorr

    townline–“Public space isn’t free, people.” Guess we should put permanent in Delaware Park then too. The idea that we need to fill parks with building’s is disingenuous at best.

  • townline

    buffalorr The “historic blocks” are not and have never been planned to be a park.

  • buffalorr

    townline–Plans can and should be changed to adapt to whatever the best uses for places are. The popularity of this spot is quite evident and it offers people a view of downtown and the water along with walkability to a variety of new spaces that will be opening soon. Plans should be fluid as places evolve into something better than what had been originally proposed.

  • runner68

    buffalorr townline Why the hell would you want one giant park? Everything north of Prime St was built for and should be private development. The Skyway really does screw that whole idea and plan up…to leave it all as a giant park is the most shortsighted thing I have ever heard..Cobbletone streets streetlights, utilities, everything put in place for development and you want to have it be a giant park…That in my opinion is a waste of taxpayer dollars, time, and a giant waste of a great space. 
    Thursday concerts will find a new area…irrelevant..
    A giant park originally made for development is not and will not evolve into something better than originally proposed..

  • LouisTully

    nyc lines townline LouisTully FarFromHome Based on…?  Not drawing a response from me?

  • FarFromHome

    Great comment and lots of information to process.
    Canalside is successful in as how popular it is. I realize the free events do not generate revenue. I actually assumed that the services provided by Independent Health, Blue Cross and Blue Shield were donated. I didn’t realize that ECHDC was paying.
    I do agree that there need to be development that brings in money – where would those be built?
    Shoot me – but I was extremely disappointed when Dinosaur BBQ didn’t end up in that area. I was excited about them coming to Buffalo until they ended up on Virginia. I’m from the South where BBQ is sacred and while I would have ventured over for the view, I really don’t have a reason to trapse to Virginia St.

  • buffalorr  There’s already a series of state-designated highways (not expressways) that takes those same truckers and commuters in and out of the city. Removing the Skyway is not going to “cut them off” in any sort of way. You make it sound like these out-of-town commuters’ livelihoods all depend on expressway travel, which is seriously pathetic.
    The inner and outer suburbs of any metropolitan region are fed from the central city, not the other way around. The CITY is the primary stakeholder of what lies in the city limits.The tail does not wag the dog.

  • townline

    buffalorr The public has invested upwards of $70million into canalside infrastructure, based upon a plan for a private sector buildout of the historic blocks.  You know, there is actually a street grid in place down there, that has no development on there?
    You would be throwing $70 million down the drain because you changed your mind and want a place where you can sit in an adirondack chair.  
    And you act like this would remove all of hte public space at canalside – the wharf and boardwalk remain, the streets remain.  Almost nothing happens on the historic block lawns currently, except for a spill-over of concert goers onto about 40% of those sites.
    What an absolute stupid, short-sighted waste your are suggesting.

  • townline

    LouisTully nyc lines FarFromHome As a development model – the ECHDC’s parcels have been horribly unsuccessful.  They have spent $70m in public money on infrastructure (that has always been intended to support development on their sites) and do not have one, single private development project happening on their parcels.  
    I could pay U2 to play a concert on vacant lots on the east side, then tell people I have a site that draws 100,000 people a year.  That does not mean I’ve done a good job.  It just means I have a giant bank account to piss away.  And when that runs out, nobody is going to think i’m great anymore.

  • rockpile38

    What are you guys talking about? Are any of you seeing the private investment that’s going into CS and what is on the docket! Guys retail is coming in the next couple of years along with the HC, Aud Block development, the excellent infill project on Scott & Washington is a go last time I heard, a major retail component was announced for HC, Pizza Plant, 716, flagship Tim H, world class hockey and entertainment complexes, Explore & More, already planned Aud Block buildings which are being finalized, the huge replica canals & Bridges with a huge, beautiful outdoor skating rink, what’s there now, a planned world class German Brewery, we want new residential? Palidino’s new hotel/condo/retail building(hopefully with new improved design). What else do you want? All you guys jump the gun thinking everything should happen in 1 year, while still referencing Bass Pro $ lost and the Skyway, get over it. Yes I hope that the future infill projects come sooner than later with a fresh water aquarium, a local food/artisans market and a couple of trendy retailers! There still can be a nice commercial, retail building across from HC next to skyway, it just can’t be massive, and how about the train station, Cobblestone, OH potential as well!

  • phj

    Think  its amazing the wide array of comments on the outer harbor….the skway…..downtown…its almost scary …with no clear direction or thought but actually mostly a lot of opposing views…….there are groups that want to keep everything natural..aka..no development….or this article regarding on establishing an increased tax base…I think unfortunately….starting off saying everyone has a stake is code for a political stalemate…or for me that potentially  NOTHING WILL GET DONE!!!….(even if its true)……Bottom line is …I think attractive CBD’s are representative of an entire area….and can potentially attract further business and people ..or even just retain them if it is truly nice… from which we all benefit locally…….and Buffalo does have a great situation compared to most “daylight” cities given its location and architecture to have a unique downtown which momentum if finally gathering……how the waterfront and skyway fit …i will to leave to people who have the time to focus….. … I don’t know…what I do know…even though i may never live in the City….. one key absolutely starts with desirable nice housing and a safe environment….housing=people=business…simple…I think housing should be part of the inner harbor….the buffalo river,…and .the outer harbor….done in a way that leaves complete public access to the waterways….and keeps the environment as green and natural as possible to keep everyone happy…..major cities thrive because people live in them…..and this is what Buffalo doesn’t have enough of,….and is lacking ….(not totally… just in comparison)….then what is the transportation and infrastracture needs do we have to have to accomplish this?…..

  • LouisTully

    nyc lines buffalorr How do you interpret the Canalside Design Guidelines?  Give it a look.  From how I interpret their references to the parcels in question – S1, S2, and S3 – they do in fact intend for buildings to be constructed on those parcels, with or without the Skyway.

  • LouisTully

    townline buffalorr Plans change.  There is quite abundant space to create tax revenue creating structures.

  • LouisTully

    nyc lines buffalorr The difficult to access outer harbor.  I think this argument is sort of going in circles, which is why I think I’ll bow out ’til next time.  All I’m saying is it’s a great space now (for more than 4-5 months a year).  Anything done pertaining to Canalside should serve the goal of improving and not at the expense of the growth it’s already achieved.

  • LouisTully

    townline buffalorr But developing those blocks will ruin our views of the sunset!  Isn’t anyone concerned about the sunset anymore?!

  • LouisTully

    nyc lines LouisTully buffalorr So, in theory, the Skyway’s removal is not a requirement for developing those parcels.

  • LouisTully

    nyc lines LouisTully buffalorr I’m kind of ambivalent to the Skyway’s existence.  I use it seldom and I’d rather take in a great view from some awesome 30th floor bar (that doesn’t exist) rather than for a split second while traveling 60mph.

  • buffalorr

    Louis Tully-The view is even more amazing when you take it in at 60mph. Kind of like when you’d catch a glance of Lake Erie while roaring down the highest point of The Comet at Crystal Beach. The people calling for a ground level slow moving parkway must not have had much fun when they were kids–right nyc lines?

  • buffalorr

    townline–The real absolute stupid, short sighted waste would be to tear down the Skyway for a few small buildings that might house a gaggle of boutiques at the expense to tens of thousands who actually have an important reason to enter or leave the city over this wonderful aerial route that would be prohibitively expensive to build today. It would be short sighted and a waste to destroy infrastructure that was put in place at a time when such things were still possible to do unlike now when it’s nearly impossible to get government moving on major transportation improvements as we’ve seen with the Peace Bridge or even linking UB South to the Amherst campus with light rail. Buffalo has declined since The Skyway was built but it will still be standing when Buffalo once again regains much of what’s been lost as is happening now. We’ll then be Thankful that the lack of vision you and the others in the tear down crowd exhibited were ignored resulting in The Skyway being here to serve your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–Oh ye of little faith–“Buffalo is just not there” Maybe not as of today but it’s rapidly gaining speed and developers will be salivating to build under The Skyway in the not too distant future. It was always such an awesome experience to witness the Brooklyn Bridge from below on the Brooklyn side when going to eat at Juniors. The same will happen here.

  • buffalorr

    Brad J Bethel Jr—No, the tail does not wag the dog but it does help guide it, something that Buffalo’s badly needed for decades now. I grew up in the city and have always been a city boy so you’re preaching to the choir but I don’t choose to ignore the 750,000 other resident’s who make Buffalo’s survival possible.

  • whateverr

    LouisTully
    ‘But developing those blocks will ruin our views of the sunset! Isn’t anyone concerned about the sunset anymore?!’
    lol, good point LT, and those CS blocks being built upon some day also would’ve blocked the street-level view of some Outer Harbor trees for people standing in the Cobblestone District in blocks east on Perry St if the HC bridge over Perry wasn’t already blocking that. 
    Maybe it’s a concern to some folks only when such view-ruining is done by a ‘glorified parking ramp’ (… where, ironically, ‘glorified’ refers to a set of HC’s uses that realistically/arguably easily surpass what a supposed boost in Canalside development would result by Skyway removal – a full service 200+ room Marriott hotel, 2 full size rinks & related seating & amateur sports training facilities, a 13,000 sq ft 2-floor sports bar/restaurant, a flagship Tim’s, and 10,000 sq ft of ground floor retail along Main).

  • whateverr

    nyc lines
    n>’why the skyway should be replaced by a low level bridge’

    The big flaw in that is low level would mean a lift bridge unreasonably impacting a route that bini points out is used by around 50,000 vehicles per weekday – including much traffic beyond ‘suburban commuters’, as some others have pointed out – such as an efficient relatively straight line pat for commercial traffic industrial trucks between Route 5 and points north on 190 (or Canada border crossings), etc etc.  
    That’s if your side of the argument isn’t also advocating to block Buffalo River ship traffic of anything that won’t fit under a low level bridge. 
    This is the core of the debate and if I’m not mistaken it’s an inconvenient reality that Kearns, Kennedy, and Higgins often ignore.

  • whateverr

    townline 
    t>’would be throwing $70 million down the drain because you changed your mind and want a place where you can sit in an adirondack chair.’  

    Looks like a big stretch if you’re implying whole $70M from taxpayers (if that’s how much was spent by ECHDC?) will become a waste due only to those few parcels sitting empty for next 50 years – if those do sit empty that long due allegedly to Skyway.
    Although I’ve never favored most of that $70M being spent in ways it has (and never favored Power Authority’s electricity customers being a source of $ for Canalside), I do think some aspects of Canalside so far are nice and will continued to be valued by much of the public no matter what happens on those parcels.  Concert funding likely can be helped with marketing approaches of the new firm for that, and even if not, the concert subsidy isn’t anywhere near a good enough justification for Skyway removal even if the logical dots can be connected between those.  …

  • whateverr

    townline
    … Even if accepting your premise for sake of comparison (that $70M is fully wasted down the drain if those parcels remain empty and Skyway is totally to blame) … that’s still a less costly outcome to region’s/city’s economy as a whole compared to what would be much more than $70M long term negative impacts of swapping the Skyway’s transportation efficiencies with a worse replacement.
    Development on those Canalside parcels could be nice, yes, but… 
    1.) Isn’t it far from certain that Skyway removal would cause very much to happen on those that wouldn’t happen anyway regardless, somewhere in that part of Buffalo even if Skyway stays? 
    and 2.) Wouldn’t net economic boost of any extra building that’s likely to be built on those parcels thanks only to Skyway removal be much smaller than negative impact of the Skyway’s removal if not replaced with something of very similar height & capacity?

  • Carrotflower

    jibreelk “Atypical” means “not typical”.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–Sure you could–google “Colorado Blvd. Bridge Pasadena California”. I watched luxury housing going up right underneath the bridge that now sells for over 1 million dollars per unit. People actually having homes underneath it. Not a problem there.

  • FarFromHome

    Last night I left the city via Ohio instead of the Skyway and the lift bridge was up – it probably added no more than 15 minutes to my commute – not a large problem. Ohio St. is still closed so you’re taking the detour – smelled like Lucky Charms were the cereal of the day.
    This route would be feasible if the lift wasn’t opened during the morning commute or the evening commute say 6am-9am and then 4pm-6pm, otherwise it would be a nightmare.

  • twoaries

    many years ago people wanted to remove the 190 for the same reasons that are being given for the removal of the skyway now and most that want it gone do not use it daily at peak hours to understand just how much traffic it moves , one person had made a comment that that had to use a different route and it only took them an extra 15 minuets that could not have been rush hour , until you have a plausible plan to handle the traffic don’t bother to talk about it , I see the 190 is still there and there are businesses’ on both sides , so what is the problem with the skyway ? do you really want this volume of traffic clogging the streets below ?

  • BuffaloGals

    twoaries City streets can handle plenty of cars. You obviously need a viable alternative, but the Skyway isn’t exactly the most traveled highway in the world. Buffalo is a small city, design to accommodate many more people than live in it now. Huge cities (like San Francisco) have removed much more heavily used expressways and still manage to function.

  • biniszkiewicz

    BuffaloGals twoaries
    it’s 50k+ cars every weekday, gals. That’s not the least traveled bridge in the world. Show us where that bridge traffic will cross the river, and please don’t say: “Lift Bridge”.

  • BuffaloGals

    biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals twoaries The Embarcadero in SF was over 100k per day. I’m sure a fair number of the cars going over the Skyway are coming from South Buffalo or Lackawanna where driving to the 190 instead would add only a few minutes to the commute (I’m from South Buffalo, and have done that many times). I imagine the best place would be somewhere near the railroad near River Bend, where traffic could either meet with South Park or meet the 190 near Smith Street. How far up the river do any ships travel these days? Maybe a lift bridge wouldn’t even be necessary that far up river.
    Again, I’m still in total agreement that an alternative is needed, I just don’t think that the Skyway is that critically important. When Ohio Street reopens, the addition of a couple other small alternate routes would be able to handle that traffic.
    I’m sure it could also be arranged for the lift bridges to only open at certain times. The bridges over the Chicago River are open for a few offpeak traffic hours a couple days a week. How often do ships go up the Buffalo River?

  • BuffaloGals

    biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals twoaries I would just PREFER to have the Skyway gone. I’m not going to go crazy if it stays. I think development and the park would benefit a bit if its not there, and if repairing it is an astronomical cost, I’d just like to see some alternatives seriously considered. However, if its determined after considering all options that it should stay I think there’s still plenty to be excited about down there and plenty of potential with the Aud Block and Cobblestone, and hopefully someday the NFTA terminal.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–We won’t be stuck at 50K cars once all the development downtown is completed and the very real possibility of a new stadium being located there. traffic volume will then only increase and when a stadium is eventually built The Skyway will be an absolute necessity. People calling for it’s removal are not displaying a vision towards the future, only concerned that it may look “ugly”.

  • BuffaloGals

    buffalorr There’s going to be more than 50k cars going over the Skyway to a stadium that will seat around 70k people? Is every fan at those games driving themselves, and coming from the South Towns (specifically the ones Route 5 serves)?
    I find that hard to believe. How many people work downtown on the average weekday? Is it more than Ralph Wilson Stadium seats? I would guess yes, and that fewer people carpool to downtown than do to Bills games. 
    Relative to other cities, there is next to no traffic in Buffalo, ever. City streets can handle the traffic.

  • Carrotflower

    The unspoken understanding is that the removal of the Skyway would necessarily entail the construction of that Canalside-Outer Harbor bridge that’s been talked about, is it not?

  • whateverr

    Carrotflower
    cflower>’the removal of the Skyway would necessarily entail the construction of that Canalside-Outer Harbor bridge that’s been talked about, is it not?’
    No that wouldn’t be a reasonable replacement for the Skyway because that Outer Harbor bridge would be a lift bridge (as it’s been studied so far, anyhow) which freqently would be opened to allow water traffic – not a tall fixed bridge such as the Skyway carrying very much road traffic over the water.

  • whateverr

    Carrotflower FarFromHome  
    … Not all would share FarFromHome’s opinion that occasional 15-minute delays (which average once or twice daily) at Ohio St lift bridge make that a ‘feasible’ alternative as long as  not opened during commute times.
    Other factors about that…
    Ohio St bridge is opened much less often than a new lift bridge near Skyway would be, due to Ohio St bridge crossing only Buffalo River (not crossing both Buffalo River & Ship Canal as does Skyway).  I’ll post link to numbers in reply to someone’s q about frequency of lift bridge openings.
    Also, if a lot of the much more voluminous traffic on Skyway (even in non-commute times) started using Ohio St, the delay upon each opening of Ohio St’s bridge would grow longer.   If delay averages 15 minutes (to use FFH’s number) with very light traffic now using Ohio St …. well, consider how many more cars cross Skyway in any typical 15 minute span compared to Ohio.  Wouldn’t that many more back up on Ohio upon each opening?  Still 15 minutes for  1st car in line waiting, but increasingly longer for each car waiting behind it once bridge closes and line starts to move?

  • whateverr

    nyc lines
    n>’I am impressed you have put an economic value to the skyway blocks and evaluated it against HC and made this conclusion … make a jpeg of your excell spreadsheet and attach to the comment, it would be helpful.  thanks.  Or do you just make shit up?  that’s what i thought.   and completely childish..’

    70 million pardons, please, for me forgetting for once to write “IMO” in something that  clearly (IMO) was presented an opinionated guess not a fact claim.  With my obsessive critic no longer commenting lately, perhaps I’ve become lax in proactively noting what’s opinion.  I’ll try to be more careful.
    In this very thread you gave a very wrong ‘2 minutes’ claim about extra time needed to use Ohio St instead of the Skyway.
    Did I call you ‘childish’ about that when you ‘made sh#t up’ about that, or ask for your spreadsheet to prove it?  No, I didn’t.
    I also notice you don’t criticize as ‘childish’ townline’s stated claim to which I was replying that the entire $70M of ECHDC’s Canalside will be be wasted ‘down the drain’ if those few parcels aren’t built upon.
    I am impressed with the doubleness of your double standards to which you hold yourself and those who agree with you when you decide what’s ‘childish’.

  • whateverr

    @BuffaloGals @biniszkiewicz @twoaries  
    BGals>’How often do ships go up the Buffalo River?’
    That was looked at when estimating # of times a lift bridge in Skyway area would be opened as part of evaluating possible locations for an Outer Harbor lift bridge.  That bridge would be intended as in addition to Skyway rather than replacing it, but the figures for this would still the same. They estimated that for a lift bridge at Main St very near the Skyway, openings would be 11 (eleven) times per weekday, and over 100 times per weekend day (surprisingly higher for tall recreational vessels).
    Those frequencies of opening might arguably be ok for an Outer Harbor lift bridge if it’s intended mainly for casual or entertainment drives, but IMO not for interrupting major traffic of all types now using the Skyway.
    See pages 13 & 14 here
    http://www.buffaloharborbridge.com/DocumentsandReports/BHB_PSR_Appendix%20B.pdf
    Note the Skyway crosses two water ways because it’s slightly south of split between Buffalo River & City Ship Canal. Map showing that http://i.imgur.com/w9awRaC.png 
    On pg 13 -‘… Main Street alternative would carry traffic 200 feet across the Buffalo River, and then 125 feet across the City Ship Canal via Main Street to the Outer Harbor Area. … This alignment would accommodate vessel traffic going into and out of both the City Ship Canal and the Buffalo River as it is located at the mouth of both of these waterways. … RCR Yachts, the General Mills Plant, and all commercial and recreational traffic using the Buffalo River and the City Ship canal south of this alignment would have to pass under this proposed location. … From data provided in the lift logs of the existing Michigan Avenue and Ohio Street Bridges, the projected number of openings for the Buffalo River span would be two openings on a peak period weekday or weekend day. However, the projected usage for the City Ship Canal span of this alignment would be 108 vessels requiring an opening on a peak period weekend day or 11 openings on a peak period weekday, due to the location of the marinas and the fact that they account for the vast majority of all vessel traffic to the lake.’

  • whateverr

    Then on pg 14 of that, about a further north alternative more toward Erie Basin Marina, a lift bridge there would have to be opened even more frequently …
    ‘The Erie Street alignment would be the proposed alignment furthest to the north, and by far the alignment that would need to accommodate the most vessel traffic. It takes traffic 325 feet from Erie Street across Buffalo Harbor to the Outer Harbor Area. With few exceptions …, it would see all vessel traffic entering the Harbor, including vessels traveling down Buffalo River and the City Ship Canal as well as both of the marinas on the Outer Harbor Area, the General Mills Plant, and other larger lake freighters. The projected usage for this alignment would be 200 vessels requiring an opening on a peak period weekend day or 20 openings on a peak period weekday.’

  • BuffaloGals

    whateverr Thanks. Wow, that’s MUCH higher than I would have thought.

  • buffalorr  So then, it’s sounding like these 750,000 non-city residents are becoming more and more synonymous with structures such as the Skyway, an auto-driven structure that inspired the very same sprawl that clearly does not reflect this city’s PEOPLE-driven legacy.
    How will the Skyway, versus the waterfront help the city THRIVE, instead of merely surviving? What REALLY defines Buffalo? People or cars?

  • biniszkiewicz

    whateverr Carrotflower FarFromHome
    To add to the frequency of a draw bridge’s activity, remember that any sailboat passing beneath the bridge would require the bridge to lift. Many sail boats dock inside the area of the proposed lift bridge.

  • biniszkiewicz

    Brad J Bethel Jr buffalorr
    Well, Brad, one thing that really defines downtown is thriving office market. And thriving office market in a city center requires lots and lots of imported workers. Without them, we don’t have a thriving downtown, period.
    One day you’ll leave your 20s.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–Yes we’re on opposite sides of the fence but that’s a good thing. Your comments along with the others posting here are needed to raise awareness of the pro’s and con’s on removing The Skyway. One thing we all have in common is our love for Buffalo and the genuine concern we have for WNY’s future.

  • buffalorr

    BuffaloGals–The exact number of cars potentially going over The Skyway for a Bills game isn’t really known at this point but having it there to facilitate traffic for events in a new stadium can only help. A new stadium could be utilized for gatherings other than the games. Cars would be coming into the CBD from all directions and there would be other things going on simultaneously with a Bills game now that Canalside has become so popular. It would be foolish to take away a route that seamlessly allows traffic to flow in and out replacing it with a convoluted maze of surface streets along with lift bridges resulting in frustrating delays. A situation that could discourage people from wanting to attend events downtown. Tearing down an efficient route as The Skyway is regressive and takes us back to a situation that would call for huge amounts of street and infrastructure improvements while still ending up with an inferior traffic flow. As the saying goes “if ain’t broke don’t try to fix it”.

  • EricAndAl
  • Carrotflower

    I don’t know why it is that everyone automatically assumes in this scenario that all traffic that would otherwise have taken the Skyway would automatically go to Ohio Street. There are plenty of other crossings over the Buffalo River for commuters to choose from. Aside from the Canalside-Outer Harbor bridge (which, again, is probably a done deal if the Skyway ever gets demolished), Michigan Avenue also has a bridge, as does South Park Avenue over by the British Pork Pie complex. It would also be an opportunity to market mass transit as an alternative, and thinking further outside the box, it would create a ready-made market for the Queen City Ferry to transition from recreational boat tours to a commuter-oriented water taxi service (let’s say, from Canalside to the parking lots next to the Small Boat Harbor). At any rate, it’s fallacious to raise fears of hour-long waits for the lift bridge to open and close, or otherwise suggest that Ohio Street would see the same volume of traffic that the Skyway does now.

  • Carrotflower

    That wasn’t meant as a reply to your comment in particular, nyc lines. Sorry about that. I’m on my mobile phone now and, as such, operating at something of a deficit.

  • whateverr

    Carrotflower
    This badly misinterprets the other side’s stated views –
    carrot>’why it is that everyone automatically assumes in this scenario that all traffic that would otherwise have taken the Skyway would automatically go to Ohio Street.’
    Clearly not ‘everyone’ on the lift-bridges-are-inadequate-Skyway-replacements side of the debate expressed an assumption that ‘all’ current Skyway traffic would go onto Ohio St.  I don’t notice were anyone expressed that in this thread – never mind ‘everyone’, although with 200+ comments maybe somebody did.
    To the contrary with my comment which said ‘a lot of’, along with ‘if’ –
    w>’Also, if a lot of the much more voluminous traffic on Skyway (even in non-commute times) started using Ohio St, the delay upon each opening of Ohio St’s bridge would grow longer.’
    In context of how I wrote that, ‘a lot of’ is relative to capacity of single-lane- each-direction Ohio St and how much traffic would back up on it when its lift bridge is open.  And the ‘if’ was responding to some anti-Skyway commenters who explicitly brought up Ohio St as a good alternative to Skyway… that’s why I brought up Ohio, not at all due to me assuming ‘all’ Skyway traffic ‘would automatically go to Ohio Street.’

  • whateverr

    Carrotflower
    … People familiar w/ Buffalo are well aware of streets you listed – all of which have lift bridges, btw, and in South Park’s case isn’t very close to the Skyway / Route 5 path.
    If those alternatives weren’t worse for efficiency, I contend they wouldn’t now be attracting over 70% less average traffic (even combined) than the Skyway.  People overwhelmingly chose the Skyway for good reason.
    daily volume approaching downtown
    Michigan – 1,706
    Ohio St – 3,094
    South Park – 6,291 
    Skyway 40,679
    http://i.imgur.com/mbJ0FD5.png  (those are daily averages including weekend days)
    https://www.dot.ny.gov/divisions/engineering/applications/traffic-data-viewer
    The new harbor lift bridge (which btw is officially intended to be in addition to Skyway, not replacement) is estimated for daily volume in range of between 5,000 to 10,000 – thus also well under a third of Skyway’s.  And some of the harbor bridge’s traffic is intended to result from new future development on Outer Harbor (i.e., future growth in traffic not yet going to/from there).  
    And if that bridge it’s located near the Skyway at Main, then as I mentioned in reply to BuffaloGals question, it’s predicted to need 11 daily lift bridge openings per average weekday, and much higher per weekend day.  And if located at Erie St it’d be opened even more frequently.
    I also don’t know if any comments claimed an extra ‘hour’ would often be needed if Skyway was removed (again, maybe somebody did, I admit not reading all 200+).   I’ll await the study to see if they estimate a time impact.  But the impact wouldn’t have to average anything near an hour average delay to earn my opposition.  I’d support Skyway removal only if the end result doesn’t significantly worsen average times between Rte 5 to/from 190 & downtown, and that doesn’t limit close-by alternatives to streets ever delayed by a lift bridge.

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines whateverr Carrotflower
    1) Delaware Ave has no draw bridges
    2) Those other 15k-20k cars/day that purportedly aren’t headed downtown yet are using the Skyway are going through downtown to get somewhere and they still will
    3) You lose credibility lecturing us about traffic when you don’t even live in WNY.

  • whateverr

    nyc lines
    ‘Delaware Ave can take 12,000 cars a day and it’s a two lane road with stop lights. and when looking at the viewer only 20,000 – 25,000 of the 40,000 cars on the skyway go downtown…and based on the Delaware traffic volumes, Ohio, Michigan, and Louisiana are clearly underutilized’
    The portion of 15k to 20k (based on numbers as you interpreted) which do go to/from downtown is also important.  It includes cars & trucks using upper 190 to/from Canadian crossings, including Chuck Schumer’s favorite example of the Route 5 Ford plant frequently trucking its manufactured products to Oakville/Hamilton.  
    But for remainder of this reply, I’ll use your comment’s focus on portion to/from downtown via Skyway…
    Of course Ohio+Louisiana (or Ganson+Michigan) ‘can take’ as much volume as Delaware, but choosing either of those for trips with destinations/origins for which the Skyway is more efficient would be a worsening for those trips.  Increased amount of extra time per trip would vary depending on trip’s start or end point, time of day, day of week, lift bridge state, etc. – but for many if not most dense/central parts of downtown, IMO some time increase.  Skyway is a pretty straight path to/from central part of downtown (Franklin, Delaware, Niagara Sq) while Louisiana St goes east of First Ward.
    I see no reason to assume the Ohio+Louisiana (or Ganson+Michigan) path is ‘underutilized’ as you call it, just because its volume is much less than a major street like Delaware.  Delaware itself has many buildings to which people drive to or from (City Hall, city court, federal court, New Era, Avant, Hampton, etc.) – thus Delaware is inherently a best direct choice in some blocks.  Not so for Louisiana which contains pretty much nothing of the sort to attract as much localize traffic, nor do its nearby streets.  
    For drivers whose start or end point causes either Ohio+Louisiana or Ganson+Michigan to be as good or better choice than Skyway, I don’t see why they aren’t already using it instead of the Skyway… and why they aren’t already included in volumes of those existing alternatives.
    Next, some time compares…

  • whateverr

    nyc lines

    It looks to me that your suggested alternative Ohio+Louisiana adds 6 extra minutes to/from Niagara Square during non-existent night time traffic compared to Skyway, if we believe Google Maps estimates.  Here’s using Skyway http://goo.gl/maps/E8X4q 6 minutes from Ridge Rd at Route 5 to City Hall. http://i.imgur.com/37TsGUw.png
    And here’s using Ohio+Louisiana for same path, 12 minutes. http://goo.gl/maps/Sk6pk
    http://i.imgur.com/BcwLLVA.png
    (I’m pretty sure I used the route you referred to for Ohio+Louisiana.  If not, you can let me know what to change.)
    Your side of the debate is free to dismiss 6 minutes per trip as trivial if you want, but it adds up, and at hours when downtown streets aren’t empty it could be even more. 
    And that comparison is even disregarding that there’s also rare but unpredictable times when Ohio’s or Michigan’s lift bridge is up.  For unlucky drivers at those times, we’d add 15 minutes (according to somebody’s comment a few days ago in this thread) … which would hen be 27 minutes vs. 6 minutes.  I’m not claiming that’s often for current lift bridges, but it is a real thing.

  • whateverr

    nyc lines
    typo, sorry… for this ‘do’ I should’ve typed don’t…
    whateverr>’15k to 20k (based on numbers as you interpreted) which do go to/from downtown is also important …’

    (that’s from a subtraction based on your comment saying only 20k to 25k of 40k daily annual average do go downtown… so the 15k to 20k is portion that don’t go downtown)

  • biniszkiewicz

    nyc lines whateverr
    “A 3 minute difference.”
    Right. At the right time of day, sure there’s only a three minute difference. Here’s the problem: when you dump the Skyway’s traffic onto the 90, that slow moving mass during rush hour on the 90 will be jammed like a linear parking lot. 
    Instead of dividing 10 lbs of potatoes into two 5 lb sacks, you’ll be trying to stuff 10 lbs of potatoes into ONE 5 lb sack. Big difference.

  • BuffaloGals

    biniszkiewicz nyc lines whateverr Maybe its an 7 minute difference then. But sorry, there’s no way that adding the route 5 traffic to the 90 turns it into a “linear parking lot”. People have a very skewed view of what traffic is in Buffalo.

  • biniszkiewicz

    BuffaloGals biniszkiewicz nyc lines whateverr
    re: “Maybe its an 7 minute difference then.”
    HA!
    an extra four minutes in a pig’s eye!
    do tell us which routes you regularly commute during rush hour.

  • BuffaloGals

    biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals nyc lines whateverr I’ve regularly commuted from South Buffalo (Ridge Road exit) to Amherst via 90 and 290 at rush hour, as well as South Buffalo (Seneca Street exit) to downtown via 190. I’ve also regularly made the second commute via route 5, from Tift street and over the Skyway. I imagine those stretches, between Ridge and 190 on 90, and between 90 and downtown on 190, are where you think traffic will crawl?
    I’ve lived other places, which has given me some perspective on traffic. Deciding to live 20 miles outside the city center adds some time to your commute.

  • BuffaloGals

    biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals nyc lines whateverr To use your metaphor, if Route 5 and 90 are each 5 pound sacks, then the truth is there’s significantly less than 10 pounds of potatoes.

  • biniszkiewicz

    BuffaloGals biniszkiewicz nyc lines whateverr
    Traffic is today a rush hour stop and go from the 290/90 interchange near I-33 to the 90/190 interchange near Clinton. Funnel an addition 20k-30k cars into that pipeline and the traffic will be double the time. Also it will be backed up from downtown to that interchange of 190/90. It’s a slow sled now without the additional traffic load.
    As for inconveniencing those that live 20 miles away: for what purpose? Eliminating the Skyway won’t bring about radical change to the development of the outer harbor.

  • buffalorr

    BuffaloGals–I’ve driven over The Skyway many times this past summer when there was a lane closure due to repair work or re-striping being done. This was in the early afternoon well before rush hour. Traffic was backed up for miles until I was able to get past the closure. Eliminating even one lane during off hours causes huge backups. Taking away the Skyway completely would make the situation on other streets mentioned here even worse. We’d be regressing to pre-Skyway congestion as was experienced during the early 50’s. Buffalo needs to make progress, not have it taken away.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–San Francisco has BART along with an extensive public transit system of busses and trolleys. Buffalo has none of this especially public transit that serves the south towns. San Francisco also has major bridges-The Bay Bridge and The Golden Gate that handle huge volumes of traffic in and out of the city daily. SF would practically shut down without them.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines–The BART system travels underneath SF Bay carrying thousands of people in and out of the city daily. The convoluted surface streets going south from downtown Buffalo are not much of an alternative for anyone needing a reasonable and efficient route in/out of the city from the south end.

  • buffalorr

    nyc lines—85% of our highways are clear–and that’s how we will keep it with the continued utilization of The Skyway as a major north-south route.

  • Hamburgguy

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals twoaries

  • FarFromHome

    I think it’s safe to say that a large marjority of commuters would rely on Ohio Street or a similiarly located route.
    I think it would depend on where in the southtowns you’re coming from. Everyone who I know who commute up the Skyway live closer to Route 5 than to 20. I wouldn’t leave 5 to take 179 to get on the 90. I wouldn’t leave 5 to take Camp to get on the 90. Wouldn’t make sense.
    Depending on where you live – Route 5, Skyway is a complete straight shot to the city.
    I haven’t the faintest idea who many of those 50k that would cover.

  • FarFromHome

    @whateverr – great post.
    What does Ohio, Michigan and South Park have in common?
    Stop lights! That would add a considerable amount of time to commutes.

  • whateverr

    nyc lines
    ‘McKinley Mall to downtown (Niagara Square) is 19 min. on 190/90 and 16 min. on route 5. A 3 minute difference.’

    Ok, that’s comparing to 90/190 from a spot along Milestrip very close to 90. … it’s unrelated to the previous comparison involving Louisiana-Ohio.
    McKinley Mall is actually is directly adjacent to the 90 entrance – not along Route 5.  So to/from that, using 90 saves the need to drive 1 mile east or west on Milestrip Rd to/from Rte 5.   (yet still Route 5 is 3 min faster)

  • whateverr

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals
    n>’rush hour right now and downtown 190 to 90 south to Milestrip on google maps is entirely green except…’
    Google traffic viewer can also show average conditions for any time and day of week – by clicking ‘change’ in box of traffic colors, then options for day/time are displayed.
    Alternatives some anti-Skiway comments suggested (Ohio St, and South Park aka Route 62) already aren’t shown as green/fast/efficient for 9AM Mondays, for instance.  Both are a yellow average for that day/time.  (I added red arrows.)  http://i.imgur.com/95G0ta3.png 
    http://goo.gl/maps/7qMj8
    That’s using Mondays as example, with similar results for other weekdays.  4 of 5 weekdays show Ohio St in yellow at 9am (all except Wednesday), and for all 5 weekdays the northbound of South Park Ave (Rte 62) is mostly yellow.
    If a big portion of Skyway’s much heavier daily volume was then added to them due to removal of Skyway, those already-yellow-with-current-volume streets would be significantly worsened in direction of ‘slow’.

  • whateverr

    nyc lines biniszkiewicz BuffaloGals
    And yes, the 90 Thruway south of 190 is shown as green/fast/efficient on average at that time on weekdays – consistent with what nyc_lines noticed for a rush hour.  That’s a good thing which should be expected and demanded for highways – they should be fast.  Doesn’t mean there’s never occasional slowdowns there at that day/time, but on average there isn’t says Google.
    Still, however…
    1.) again, combination of [90 + lower part of 190] isn’t a close-by equivalent to the Skyway for Route 5 traffic.  It’s a longer, more-time-consuming connection between Rte 5 to/from downtown or upper 190, Canada crossings, etc.
    2.) we can only guess how much extra volume added to that part of 90 would be enough to cause it to no longer be green/fast/efficient on average for that day/time.