Should the Skyway Stay?

November 27, 2012 Updated Nov 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM EDT

By WKBW News

November 27, 2012 Updated Nov 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM EDT

Buffalo N.Y. (WKBW) - Congressman Brian Higgins says although tens of thousands of people use the Skyway, it is actually hurting Western New York.

"There are 27.5 acres of land that otherwise could be developed and put on the tax roll it undermines Buffalo's ability to develop it's Waterfront to it's full potential," Higgins said.

Higgins sent a letter to the New York State Department of Transportation earlier this fall, requesting it to stop their long-term maintenance of the bridge. He believes the bridge should be torn down and smaller bridge be built. This new bridge would be lower and would allow the waterfront to grow.

Construction would take two years and would include lanes for pedestrians. Higgins believes the Buffalo Harbor Bridge combined with reconstruction of Ohio Street would handle the traffic. Some residents question that theory.

"A lot of people use it to get back and forth to the city. You'd be stuck out there," resident Mary Shultz said.

Others question the cost.

"Construction that's gone on, they also go over budget and they always end up paying more than what they say," resident Jean Grucza said.

Some residents agree with Higgins. They say the bridge, built in the 1950's, is outdated.

"A different type of structure that's closest to the ground would probably reduce how much stress there is in terms of the winds and the bad weather, so people could continue to use that bridge even in the bad winter weather," Mary Patrick Oakley said.