NYSDOT Agrees to Look at Skyway Alternatives

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has agreed to conduct a review to determine the future of the Skyway.  In a letter from the NYSDOT to Congressman Higgins, Commissioner McDonald writes, “I have directed my staff to conduct a “plausibility review” to identify the critical issues associated with an undertaking of this complexity. Once this review is completed, we will be better able to have a meaningful discussion on the Skyway’s future.”
In separate correspondence to a local resident, provided to Congressman Higgins, the NYSDOT Regional Director says, “In recognition of the significant investment associated with preserving the Skyway, it is both appropriate and prudent to identify and assess alternatives to its continued existence. While significant bridge work is several years away, New York State Department of Transportation staff will begin this review in the near term.”
“Great communities have the vision to look beyond the immediate needs of today and make smart decisions that can create a lasting, positive impact for generations to come,” said Congressman Higgins. “I applaud the DOT for their leadership and look forward to working with the State to make infrastructure decisions that positions our waterfront, our city and our community to reach its full economic potential.”

IMG_2567.jpg

Higgins has advocated for Skyway removal forsome time, pointing to the outdated structure as a barrier for economic development. This fall, Higgins again renewed his call for Skyway removal, in a letter to the NYSDOT, noting that utilizing alternatives may make more economic sense than maintaining the status quo. 
Higgins pointed to recent progress in the area of the Skyway as further justification for its removal. The four mile long route sits on prime property at Canalside and along 27.5 acres along Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, areas of Buffalo’s waterfront that has undergone and is continuing to experience incredible progress and is now in demand for further economic development. 
In addition, improvements have been made or are planned for along infrastructure routes that could serve as alternatives to the Skyway including: a $2.3 million improvement project completed along South Park Avenue; an $11 million project which will be underway next year transforming Ohio Street into a riverfront parkway; the over $50 million effort which created an Outer Harbor Parkway at Fuhrmann Boulevard; as well as a study to connect the inner and outer harbors through a new Buffalo Harbor Bridge. 
“The Skyway was constructed during a time when Buffalo’s waterfront served a different purpose, one dependent on freight supporting heavy industry,” said Higgins. “Over the last few years we’ve come to see what is possible when we remove the barriers to waterfront access meeting the needs of today’s economy. If we don’t consider a cost-benefit analysis of the Skyway today, this community could be paying a much higher price in the years to come in terms of long-term maintenance and lost economic opportunity.”

About the author  ⁄ buffalorising

139 comments
buffloonitick
buffloonitick

Hey! leave the donkeys out of this...

it's difficult to project an air of authority without tapping into the power that the Podium has.

buffloonitick
buffloonitick

Hey! leave the donkeys out of this...

it's difficult to project an air of authority without tapping into the power that the Podium has.

beaster
beaster

Really Brian, again with the podium? OMFG!--When did this donkey-Irish dandy buy a tie?!?!

beaster
beaster

Really Brian, again with the podium? OMFG!--When did this donkey-Irish dandy buy a tie?!?!

LouisTully
LouisTully

No, I meant it as stated. Without the Skyway the alternative would be slower and less convenient. Hence, opposition from people who regularly use it.

LouisTully
LouisTully

No, I meant it as stated. Without the Skyway the alternative would be slower and less convenient. Hence, opposition from people who regularly use it.

Up and coming
Up and coming

Great idea! The Seneca ramp is a stupid idea. Let's take baby steps and see how that works first. Like they say, "you have to walk before you can run."

Up and coming
Up and coming

Great idea! The Seneca ramp is a stupid idea. Let's take baby steps and see how that works first. Like they say, "you have to walk before you can run."

Up and coming
Up and coming

Slu, come on man, let's not be so naive. We talk about traffic around here like it's a badge of courage, "OMG look at how vibrant out city is with all this traffic." When other cities talk about traffic like it's the plague. Visit DC, NYC, Boston, Atlanta or Philly and see what they think of traffic and the parking situations downtown. My point is that leveling the Skyway would have a huge impact on daily commuter traffic. Which in turn would keep people from traveling into the city. A commenter on here once said that if we removed the 33, all other side streets could handle the traffic with ease. Once this was said all the usual BRO cronies jumped on the bandwagon, "yeah infill the 33!" Until someone with actual transportation figures proved them completely wrong. This Skyway was in the single obstacle holding back our waterfront, and if you think it is you are highly naive.

Up and coming
Up and coming

I'd bet a lot. I hate the traffic the way it is right now. If there was more traffic i'd probably stop going to games. Why would I fight traffic in the blistering cold, when I can watch the game from the confort of my own house?

Up and coming
Up and coming

I'd bet a lot. I hate the traffic the way it is right now. If there was more traffic i'd probably stop going to games. Why would I fight traffic in the blistering cold, when I can watch the game from the confort of my own house?

brownteeth
brownteeth

As I've said above, I'm on the fence with keeping/removing the skyway. One alternative would be to keep the skyway but eliminate some of the ramps which would free up space. We don't really need the on/off ramp at the foot of Delaware/S. Elmwood. You can still get on/off at the end of Church Street a 1/4 mile away. The Seneca Street Ramp can go too.

Why not start there and see how that impacts everything?

brownteeth
brownteeth

As I've said above, I'm on the fence with keeping/removing the skyway. One alternative would be to keep the skyway but eliminate some of the ramps which would free up space. We don't really need the on/off ramp at the foot of Delaware/S. Elmwood. You can still get on/off at the end of Church Street a 1/4 mile away. The Seneca Street Ramp can go too.

Why not start there and see how that impacts everything?

Slu
Slu

Oh no! Bumper to Bumper for a half mile!!! You must have waited at least 15 or 20 minutes to get through that "traffic", which was caused by an accident as you stated and has nothing to do with anything really.

I fail to see how this anecdote proves your point. If anything it goes against you. If you were using surface streets, you would have had many alternate routes you could have taken to avoid this accident. But since the Skyway is limited access you were stuck in what you refer to as "traffic".

Slu
Slu

"How many HSBC visitors use the sky way?

How many would not come to a game if there was not a quick way out of the city to the South?"

1. Lots

2. Zero

Slu
Slu

"How many HSBC visitors use the sky way?

How many would not come to a game if there was not a quick way out of the city to the South?"

1. Lots

2. Zero

bfloboy86
bfloboy86

I actually brought this to Governor Cuomo's attention this past summer, along with similarly-veiled plans to scale back the Kensington and Scajacquada Expressways, because of the DOT's long history of neglecting such projects.

What it basically boils down to is how much the DOT is willing to commit. Right now, it's taking a lot of public pressure for them to understand that there is more to the picture than that of the motorist. People need a practical alternative to the oceans of traffic that already defines places like Amherst and Cheektowaga.

bfloboy86
bfloboy86

I actually brought this to Governor Cuomo's attention this past summer, along with similarly-veiled plans to scale back the Kensington and Scajacquada Expressways, because of the DOT's long history of neglecting such projects.

What it basically boils down to is how much the DOT is willing to commit. Right now, it's taking a lot of public pressure for them to understand that there is more to the picture than that of the motorist. People need a practical alternative to the oceans of traffic that already defines places like Amherst and Cheektowaga.

Up and coming
Up and coming

My comment was directed towards recreational and entertainment outings. Although the markup on mufflers is quite high, and with Buffalo's bad winters maybe a muffler shop isnt a half bad idea?

Up and coming
Up and coming

My comment was directed towards recreational and entertainment outings. Although the markup on mufflers is quite high, and with Buffalo's bad winters maybe a muffler shop isnt a half bad idea?

buffaloroam
buffaloroam

Up and Coming... not sure what your problem is, but you need to take a pill or something.

Up and coming
Up and coming

"And you wonder why downtown isnt integrated with its surrounding neighborhoods and retail cant get a foothold."

Retail is unable to grasp a foothold because Buffalo's the second poorest City in the nation. Not because of an elevated Skyway. Look at the Delaware Park area. The 198 cuts right through it and it seems to be doing just fine. People make up these problems so they can justify their own actions. It's the same as a crazy person saying they killed in the name of Jesus.

Up and coming
Up and coming

"And you wonder why downtown isnt integrated with its surrounding neighborhoods and retail cant get a foothold."

Retail is unable to grasp a foothold because Buffalo's the second poorest City in the nation. Not because of an elevated Skyway. Look at the Delaware Park area. The 198 cuts right through it and it seems to be doing just fine. People make up these problems so they can justify their own actions. It's the same as a crazy person saying they killed in the name of Jesus.

Up and coming
Up and coming

That is probably one of the worst ideas I've ever heard. One, where would the tunnel popup? Two, how much would it cost? Three, where would we get the money from. Four, what is the time table for completion. Five, what will the impact on traffic be.

Also, on a side note. I took the Skyway into the city a month or so, on a Sunday when there was little to no traffic. Come to find out there was an accident on the Skyway and it was blocked off. This caused the exits before the Skyway to be packed with traffic. I'm talking bumper to bumper for probably a half mile. My point is, I don't think people realize how much traffic the Skyway pumps into, and out of the city uninterrupted.

Up and coming
Up and coming

That is probably one of the worst ideas I've ever heard. One, where would the tunnel popup? Two, how much would it cost? Three, where would we get the money from. Four, what is the time table for completion. Five, what will the impact on traffic be.

Also, on a side note. I took the Skyway into the city a month or so, on a Sunday when there was little to no traffic. Come to find out there was an accident on the Skyway and it was blocked off. This caused the exits before the Skyway to be packed with traffic. I'm talking bumper to bumper for probably a half mile. My point is, I don't think people realize how much traffic the Skyway pumps into, and out of the city uninterrupted.

Up and coming
Up and coming

Key word, "hope". So investing hundreds of millions of dollars on some "hope" doesn't sound like a realistic idea.

Up and coming
Up and coming

Key word, "hope". So investing hundreds of millions of dollars on some "hope" doesn't sound like a realistic idea.

paulsobo
paulsobo

Has anyone put a value on all the land taken off the tax rolls because of:

- the skyway and its access ramps

- the Virginia street access ramps

- the Erie Street access ramps

- the Elm-Oak Arteriole access ramps

- and the Kensington access ramp from Main to Best Street.

And you wonder why downtown isnt integrated with its surrounding neighborhoods and retail cant get a foothold.

Downtown Buffalo is only integrated with the westside/BlackRock, North Buffalo and a fraction of the eastside.

Downtown is severed from the outerharbor, canal district, 1st ward, hydrolics district and dead space caused by the Elm-Oak.

Your never going to get the city that you want if your not willing to drive on its streets.

flyguy
flyguy

Remove the skyway but do not reduce speed and efficiency with whatever alternative is favored. If the outer harbor develops as it should to include a major hub of economic activity and employment then the transportation system infrastructure shouldnt discourage interstate commerce and truck traffic, especially considering the areas major crossing to Canada for international trade. Do the Ohio Street improvements and the Buffalo River bridge for local traffic and I would hope an extension of light rail to the outer harbor and beyond along the waterfront AND build a highway tunnel under the skyway footprint. Nice thing is generally nothing under the skyway now so cut and cover easier. If the Bostons or thw world can have the big dig and Tidewater Virginia can have the amount of tunnels and bridge tunnels they do, then Buffalo should get a small piece of that action. We're talking a mile or less? Heck, build the tunnel wide enough to accomodate NFTA light rail and a bike trail to the outer harbor and three birds with one stone and get three or more modes of traffic out of the winter weather for awhile. Instead of closing the skyway for bad weather, a tunnel could be a safe haven...lol!

flyguy
flyguy

Remove the skyway but do not reduce speed and efficiency with whatever alternative is favored. If the outer harbor develops as it should to include a major hub of economic activity and employment then the transportation system infrastructure shouldnt discourage interstate commerce and truck traffic, especially considering the areas major crossing to Canada for international trade. Do the Ohio Street improvements and the Buffalo River bridge for local traffic and I would hope an extension of light rail to the outer harbor and beyond along the waterfront AND build a highway tunnel under the skyway footprint. Nice thing is generally nothing under the skyway now so cut and cover easier. If the Bostons or thw world can have the big dig and Tidewater Virginia can have the amount of tunnels and bridge tunnels they do, then Buffalo should get a small piece of that action. We're talking a mile or less? Heck, build the tunnel wide enough to accomodate NFTA light rail and a bike trail to the outer harbor and three birds with one stone and get three or more modes of traffic out of the winter weather for awhile. Instead of closing the skyway for bad weather, a tunnel could be a safe haven...lol!

Mark_P
Mark_P

Temporary traffic problems with the removal of the skyway are insignificant. Worrying about that is a mistake of cause and effect, assuming the traffic always will and needs to be there in the same form, and also assuming that there isnt a greater value available. Look at the Embarcadero in San Fransisco for the perfect example of how these highways detract from their surroundings while not even providing the "benefit" they claim.

Removing highways returns value to the land around it. It also increases the value in living closer to the city and reduces the value of living away from it. That will eventually increase the demand for public transportation as well.

If you add value back into being in the city, then the system starts to correct itself.

Mark_P
Mark_P

Temporary traffic problems with the removal of the skyway are insignificant. Worrying about that is a mistake of cause and effect, assuming the traffic always will and needs to be there in the same form, and also assuming that there isnt a greater value available. Look at the Embarcadero in San Fransisco for the perfect example of how these highways detract from their surroundings while not even providing the "benefit" they claim.

Removing highways returns value to the land around it. It also increases the value in living closer to the city and reduces the value of living away from it. That will eventually increase the demand for public transportation as well.

If you add value back into being in the city, then the system starts to correct itself.

Soccerdude5719
Soccerdude5719

Removal of the Skyway will give Ohio street more use and hopefully spur development along the way.

Soccerdude5719
Soccerdude5719

Removal of the Skyway will give Ohio street more use and hopefully spur development along the way.

Up and coming
Up and coming

I think you mean.

"I sense you use the Skyway regularly and don't want the slower, less "inconvenient" alternative."

Up and coming
Up and coming

I think you mean.

"I sense you use the Skyway regularly and don't want the slower, less "inconvenient" alternative."

Up and coming
Up and coming

It's actually pretty spot on. We have no one in city hall who's capable of seeing the big picture. It's easy to say, "tear down the Skyway." It's a lot harder to come up wiht a plan and figure out how it realistically effects day to day activities and what your actual ROI will be.

Up and coming
Up and coming

It's actually pretty spot on. We have no one in city hall who's capable of seeing the big picture. It's easy to say, "tear down the Skyway." It's a lot harder to come up wiht a plan and figure out how it realistically effects day to day activities and what your actual ROI will be.

Up and coming
Up and coming

Both of you are spot on. Planning for the removal of the Skyway should have been placed in the original Rt 5 reconfig if it was going to happen. Now we're too far along to go back now. Michael also brings up some good points about how many people use the Skyway to commute to and from the a Sabres game, or back and fourth to work. I think we could spend a lot less money lighting up the Skyway and making it something cool, when compared to the cost of spending millions of dollars tearing it down and starting over.

Up and coming
Up and coming

Both of you are spot on. Planning for the removal of the Skyway should have been placed in the original Rt 5 reconfig if it was going to happen. Now we're too far along to go back now. Michael also brings up some good points about how many people use the Skyway to commute to and from the a Sabres game, or back and fourth to work. I think we could spend a lot less money lighting up the Skyway and making it something cool, when compared to the cost of spending millions of dollars tearing it down and starting over.

Joe E.V.
Joe E.V.

ECHDC has only as much say in the removal of the skyway as the rest of us-it's the State DOT's baby because Rt. 5 is a STATE road.

Your "holistic" approach if pretty scatter shot.

Joe E.V.
Joe E.V.

ECHDC has only as much say in the removal of the skyway as the rest of us-it's the State DOT's baby because Rt. 5 is a STATE road.

Your "holistic" approach if pretty scatter shot.

BufHky
BufHky

With pleasure ;)

BufHky
BufHky

With pleasure ;)

brownteeth
brownteeth

I've been saying the same thing all along. If they're going to tear it down they should have started 2-3 years ago before we started "building" underneath it so to speak. That's a huge logistical issue that Higgy Bear has not addressed.

That aside, I am on the fence for keeping it or removing it but after the last few years of frequenting Canalside and seeing the transformation below the skyway doesn't seem to look so bad anymore. Lush green grass growing around the art deco supports being lit up is actually kind of neat looking. I'd never thought I'd say that.

Like you my concern is weighing the pros and cons of removing it in a few years vs killing all momentum and future building directly around the skyway until it's removed.

ECHDC essentially laid new carpet underneath a ceiling that needs to be pulled down.

brownteeth
brownteeth

I've been saying the same thing all along. If they're going to tear it down they should have started 2-3 years ago before we started "building" underneath it so to speak. That's a huge logistical issue that Higgy Bear has not addressed.

That aside, I am on the fence for keeping it or removing it but after the last few years of frequenting Canalside and seeing the transformation below the skyway doesn't seem to look so bad anymore. Lush green grass growing around the art deco supports being lit up is actually kind of neat looking. I'd never thought I'd say that.

Like you my concern is weighing the pros and cons of removing it in a few years vs killing all momentum and future building directly around the skyway until it's removed.

ECHDC essentially laid new carpet underneath a ceiling that needs to be pulled down.

MICHAEL WEEKES
MICHAEL WEEKES

ECHDC should have planned for the removal of the skyway BEFORE putting the shovel in the ground at the waterfront, now you're halfway down the track and you're saying, "oh, let's change the landscape, which, by the way, derails the whole train trip for a few years.

A decision must have been made back between the initiation of the ECHDC and 2005 or so to develop a Canalside WITH a Skyway.

Now the leader who conceived of the ECHDC is changing the vision for the initiative after it is five years along.

I am all for adapting to CHANGING circumstances, but there is no changes in the circumstances. The skyway was there and is there now.

The decision to leave the skyway (or not face the challenges of removing it) back when ECHDC started, set the direction on this effort. Follow through, now!

NO ONE IS MENTIONING THIS.

OR let's admit that we gave $300,000,000 to a team who did not properly assess the situation first, before they executed.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - when you were at the Memorial Aud, enjoying our sports heritage, you never thought about the sky way during a game. And when the game was over, you were glad it was there.

How many HSBC visitors use the sky way?

How many would not come to a game if there was not a quick way out of the city to the South?

Look at all the factors.

MICHAEL WEEKES
MICHAEL WEEKES

ECHDC should have planned for the removal of the skyway BEFORE putting the shovel in the ground at the waterfront, now you're halfway down the track and you're saying, "oh, let's change the landscape, which, by the way, derails the whole train trip for a few years.

A decision must have been made back between the initiation of the ECHDC and 2005 or so to develop a Canalside WITH a Skyway.

Now the leader who conceived of the ECHDC is changing the vision for the initiative after it is five years along.

I am all for adapting to CHANGING circumstances, but there is no changes in the circumstances. The skyway was there and is there now.

The decision to leave the skyway (or not face the challenges of removing it) back when ECHDC started, set the direction on this effort. Follow through, now!

NO ONE IS MENTIONING THIS.

OR let's admit that we gave $300,000,000 to a team who did not properly assess the situation first, before they executed.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - when you were at the Memorial Aud, enjoying our sports heritage, you never thought about the sky way during a game. And when the game was over, you were glad it was there.

How many HSBC visitors use the sky way?

How many would not come to a game if there was not a quick way out of the city to the South?

Look at all the factors.

© 2014 Hyperlocal Media. All Rights Reserved.