HAMBURG, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Hamburg Town Board passed a resolution against taking down the Skyway.
Hamburg Town Board votes to oppose tearing down the Skyway. Town Supervisor Jim Shaw says he wants to get other town boards from southern Erie County on the same page, he believes it will have a more meaningful impact on the NYS DOT. @WKBW— Gilat Melamed (@gilat_melamed) June 8, 2021
Several Hamburg residents expressed opposition to taking down the Skyway at Monday night's board meeting.
While it's not the town's decision, Skyway Club founder Rachele Schneekloth said she hopes more towns looking to keep the Skyway will have an impact in the long run.
“The Skyway adds value to our city in the long term," Schneekloth said. "It adds value in terms of ease of access, transportation, its beauty, its history. It’s really, it’s a Buffalo treasure, it’s a unique span, it’s a unique bridge that you don't see anywhere else
Common concerns expressed by residents at the meeting were commute times and ease of access to hospitals. Approximately 40,000 drivers use the Skyway a day.
June LeClair Mahfoud was outside town hall advocating for the Skyway to stay. She said her father was one of three WWII veterans who died while building the Skyway.
"We want to honor them, and with that, we want to keep the Skyway up as a memorial to our dad and to the other two gentleman that fell off, the veterans," said LeClair Mahfoud.
Executive Director of Campaign for Greater Buffalo Tim Tielman supports a pedestrian skywalk, and tearing down the Skyway over the Canalside/Lower Terrace area. He said it will provide more room for development, and improve waterfront accessibility.
“It would be one leg of the stool to rebuild and revitalize Buffalo,” Tielman said.
Less than two weeks ago Congressman Brian Higgins and State Senator Tim Kennedy held a press conference calling for the removal of the Skyway.
On Monday, the lawmakers said there needs to be a better plan for commuters first.
“Before you can replace the Skyway with anything we have to provide a better inland alternative,” Higgins said.
Below is a portion of Higgins' press release, stating what the two lawmakers want to see.
Higgins and Kennedy maintain that the Skyway is an overbuilt obstruction that sells short the full potential of Buffalo’s waterfront. Recent repairs only extend the Skyway’s viability for the next decade. The Western New York leaders are calling for the following lighter, quicker, cheaper transportation improvements to better position the community in the future:
- Improvements to the Thruway and the elimination of tolls at Hamburg to provide better options to commuters
- More efficient stop light patterns to encourage neighborhood economic development and ease of travel in the City of Buffalo
- A new Parkway, park, and bike path at Tifft Street connecting South Buffalo and the Buffalo Harbor State Park
- A new Louisiana Street bridge crossing the Buffalo River at the I-190 and other improvements to build on the momentum of the Riverline and other projects
Both Randy Hoak and Stefan Mychajliw, the Democrat and Republican candidates for Hamburg Town Supervisor, spoke at the meeting to oppose tearing down the Skyway.
The state is currently doing an environmental impact study. Hamburg Town Supervisor Jim Shaw said he wants the NYS DOT to have a regional meeting this summer to hear from residents.