There is a renewed push by Senator Tim Kennedy (among other Buffalo politicians) to unchain the waterfront from the bonds of the skyway. It’s been a heated issue for years, with debates raging over countless pros and cons. Formerly I was 100% behind the removal of the skyway, but in recent years I’ve come around to seeing the ribbon of elevated roadway in a new light. It took a friend who was visiting from Los Angeles to make me rethink the way that I looked at the skyway. “It’s what makes the Buffalo skyline distinct,” he told me, after I had spent the previous five minutes telling him why it should come down. “I’ve traveled all over the world, and I’ve seen a lot of waterfronts. The skyway acts as a nice backdrop to the Buffalo skyline, and gives it recognizable character.”
After my friend went back to LA, I couldn’t help but think about the skyway in another light. I began to look at it differently. What if we could light it up and actually use it to our advantage by re-envisioning the Jetsonian skyway as public art, much the same way that we are rethinking the grain elevators? By removing the skyway, how much land are we freeing up for development, and now that Route 5 has been re-elevated instead of being downgraded into a boulevard, how does that change the landscape with the removal of the skyway?
“The removal of the Buffalo Skyway will prove to be a transformative project that will open up new opportunities for development along our waterfront,” Kennedy said. “Razing this ‘structurally deficient’ and ‘functionally obsolete’ structure will remove a physical barrier that is impeding continued economic progress at Buffalo’s waterfront, and it will spur private-sector investment and job creation. I urge the Regional Economic Development Council,” Kennedy added, “to make removal of the Skyway a top priority infrastructure project for the Western New York region.”
While keeping the skyway up as a novelty may appeal to some people, I do understand the financial implications that come along with it. Kennedy pointed out in a recent press release the following numbers, that should obviously be taken into consideration when looking at its possible removal:
A 2008 DOT report shows that current maintenance of the structure will cost the state approximately $117 million over the next 20 years, while removal costs have been estimated at $20 to $25 million.
What are your thoughts when it comes to stepping up the pace to remove the skyway from the city’s waterfront? And have we examined all of the possibilities when it comes to creating a world-class waterfront, that is distinctly Buffalo?
Learn more about the issue of skyway removal
Higgins pushes for skyway removal