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Buffalo’s Freeway Without a Future

Buffalo lands on a lot of lists these days, and happily, mostly for good things.  Here is a list from a while back that points out one of Buffalo’s failings; as characterized by the Congress for New Urbanism’s John Norquist, our skyway is an albatross hanging from our collective neck.  

In fact, Norquist believes all skyways are a scourge to the sort of communities CNU promotes and strives for in a society where people are key, and transportation concerns should never cut a community off from its amenities.  This article from, along with the ariel view of an inarguably ugly roadway, gives salient reasons why freeways and skyways are a pox on modern culture.

This list of the top “Freeways Without Futures” includes our skyway, along with others like it, and offers: Cities
around the world are replacing urban highways with surface streets, saving
billions of dollars on transportation infrastructure and revitalizing adjacent
land with walkable, compact development. Transportation models that support
connected street grids, improved transit, and revitalized urbanism will make
reducing gasoline dependency and greenhouse gas emissions that much more
convenient. It pays to consider them as cities evaluate their renewal
strategies — and as the U.S. evaluates its federal transportation and
climate policy.

Congressman Brian Higgins has been the most central character where the fate of the skyway is concerned.  In this article from last December, Higgins said that DOT findings pointed toward the removal of the skyway, though many feel that his forward movement on the Route 5 elevation will impede the possibility of removal of the skyway for decades.  Many, like Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, would like to see an at grade boulevard, developed and user-friendly, with access to the waterfront.
Who can forget the unveiling for the proposed Bass Pro when, just as Jordan Levy lifted the sheet from the model, the skyway toppled down to the applause and laughter of the entire crowd–until it was clear that it was an accident?
There have been other plans made for the skyway, from Tim Tielman’s Skyway Park, to Ran Webber’s Adaptive Reuse Project.
So what is it?  Are we stuck with the skyway for decades?  Should we light it up and learn to like it?  Is the Campaign for Greater Buffalo’s (Tielman’s) plan best?  Webber’s?  Be sure to comment here as well as vote in this week’s poll because we’re not so sure the CNU list of Freeways Without Futures is one we’d like to be on. 

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