Over the years, countless people have submitted their thoughts, ideas, and even designs, regarding the future of The Skyway. From tearing it down completely, to converting the The Skyway into a bike-ped thoroughfare, everyone has their own opinions when it comes to the future of this iconic elevated roadway.
This past week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he was launching a competition to explore new directions for The Skyway, which he says is “functionally obsolete, structurally deficient, and unpopular with commuters.”
“The skyway was built for a different time and a different economy, and it created a blockade to the waterfront. Now we need to do the exact opposite and come up with an alternative design for the skyway,” Governor Cuomo said. “Let’s stop talking about studies and instead do a competition to solicit ideas from the best designers, architects and community planners and come up with a real plan for the skyway that creates a connected Buffalo with access to the waterfront and supports the region’s economy.”
The Skyway was designed with a 110-foot clearance to accommodate industrial work on the Buffalo River, making the bridge larger and longer.
“Buffalo’s new image requires a new, forward thinking approach to our outdated infrastructure,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “As someone who sees the skyway out my window at home, I know that we can do better. Not only is this elevated structure unsafe during winter conditions, it has been obsolete almost since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway diverted much of the shipping away from Buffalo. Our community should be open to new, creative possibilities to truly re-imagine our waterfront.”
As the Inner Harbor/Canalside continue to evolve, the question is, what is the future of The Skyway? Should it simply be demolished, which would then leave the existing street grid below to blossom? Or is there a massive art element that can be brought forth, that would emblazon the city’s skyline in a way similar to The Gateway Arch? Will there be a bike-ped element? Or some sort of observation piece? For the first time ever, the sky is the limit when it comes to the future of this controversial bridge.
Congressman Brian Higgins said, “The Buffalo Skyway is an obsolete piece of infrastructure, that no longer meets today’s engineering standards or the needs of the new Buffalo. I commend Governor Cuomo and Senator Tim Kennedy for their leadership in commencing a competition that will invite innovative design alternatives to the Buffalo Skyway. This leadership sets forth action on the Skyway that continues the great momentum we’ve accomplished toward opening up access to our waterfront.”
Senator Tim Kennedy, Chair of the Senate’s Transportation Committee, said, “Our waterfront is our region’s most precious resource, and the continued progress along the inner and Outer Harbor demonstrates the strong investment we’re making in Buffalo’s recreation, tourism, and conservation. A critical component of that includes the incorporation of a robust and feasible transportation structure, which is why I’m working to include $100,000 in this year’s budget for a competition focused on creating alternative designs for the Skyway. Congressman Higgins and I have long called for an assessment of the Skyway’s removal, and we’re eager to work with Governor Cuomo and the DOT to encourage and review alternative projects that will not only enhance experiences for residents and visitors, but will ensure a connectivity that is key to long-term growth.”
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “The Governor’s idea for a design competition is a very creative approach to reimagine what this roadway could be to improve transportation access and stimulate additional economic development.”