BUFFALO, NY (WKBW/release) - Congressman Brian Higgins welcomed the news that 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.”
"We're going to look at the macro issues involved with the skyway, the big picture issues such as traffic flow on alternate route," said Beau Duffy, a spokesperson for the DOT. "Once we can identify those issues then we can determine the credibility of the alternatives for the skyway."
In the short term, the DOT says the deck of the skyway will need to be replaced and the bridge will need to be repainted. Higgins says replacing it with a smaller bridge and improving corridors like Ohio Street and South Park Avenue would work just fine.
"Keep in mind the infrastructure of this community was built for double the current population," said Higgins, "so I think there is great capacity to absorb the 40-thousand people that travel the skyway everyday."
Higgins estimates demolishing the skyway would cost 20 million dollars and the new lift bridge roughly 63 - 75 million dollars.
The state DOT's feasibility study could take 12 months to complete.