NYSDOT: Skyway staying put

September 6, 2012 Updated Sep 6, 2012 at 7:25 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by James Fink

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September 6, 2012 Updated Sep 6, 2012 at 7:25 AM EDT

Despite a loud hue and cry to raze the Buffalo Skyway and replace it with a vehicle-friendly roadway, don't expect to see anything other than routine repairs and painting to take place on the heavily-traveled thoroughfare.

Darrell Kaminski, New York State Department of Transportation regional director, said as much Wednesday morning.

"We are not looking at it," Kaminski said. "It's in good shape. At this point, there are so many other roads that are a priority."

Kaminski said the nearly mile-long elevated roadway - a key link between downtown Buffalo and the Southtowns - is due for nearly $30 million in repaving and painting work in the coming years.

Many leaders, headed by Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, feel the money would be better spent designing and building a replacement roadway that is less intrusive on Buffalo's waterfront. The push for replacing the Skyway is taking more of a sense of urgency against the backdrop of several waterfront developments in Buffalo and along the Outer Harbor.

"We need to position our community to make smart choices," Higgins said. "This is not about tearing something down as much as it is about building something up."

Some estimate the cost of replacing the Skyway in the $100 million range.

Higgins admits reaching a final decision about the fate of the Skyway is not on the immediate horizon. It would take several years, he conceded.

Kaminski said replacing the Skyway goes beyond just tearing down the roadway. Traffic patterns during the demolition and construction period have to be taken under consideration.

The Skyway is an elevated steel bridge 100 feet over the Buffalo River and 1.1 miles in length. Completed in 1956, it now handles an estimated 45,000 vehicles daily ranging from cars and SUVs to tractor-trailer trucks.

"You have to figure out where they are going to," Kaminski said. "There are a lot of issues to look at."

Higgins, however, said he is determined to find a reasonable solution.

"There are possibilities right in front us," he said. "There's going to be opportunities."

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