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Renewed calls to remove the Skyway

"The Skyway is dangerous"
Posted at 4:44 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 17:16:55-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — There are renewed calls from two local leaders to tear down the Skyway saying it is unsafe and hazardous.

U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins and State Senator Tim Kennedy appeared at the foot of Main Street in downtown Buffalo’s Canal District Thursday morning under a portion of the Skyway.

U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins and State Senator Tim Kennedy call for the Skyway to be removed.

“The Skyway is dangerous, it's dated and it's dirty,” declared Congressman Higgins.

The Congressman issued a report from his Washington, D.C. office titled the Buffalo Skyway is unsafe.

“Bringing down the Skyway is going to make sure that it is safe,” Kennedy remarked.

The renewed calls to remove the Skyway come as the New York State Department of Transportation is working to compete an environmental impact study of the elevated bridge for future development.

Under the Skyway in downtown Buffalo.

“This highway does not conform with federal, basic safety standards and it never will,” noted Higgins. “There are hazardous conditions for both motorists and pedestrians.”

“Take this Skyway down — it's an albatross to development in our community,” said Kennedy.

Higgins and Kennedy say the Skyway, which opened in 1953, is unsafe.

That’s why they’re filing a notice with the New York State Attorney General and commissioners of the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

“It’s putting them on notice — there are problems with this and they better be addressed in the new design,” Higgins noted.

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Under a section of the Skyway 'falling debris' sign posted

Higgins and Kennedy say walking under this portion of the Skyway is equally dangerous.

“There is falling debris, whether it's concrete that has broken off over the years, whether it is snow that is being plowed in the winter time, falling on the cars, potentially putting people into harms way,” stated Kennedy.

“There are hazardous conditions for both motorists and pedestrians and if they fail to do something about it — they have exposure relative to liability,” Higgins said.

Driving on the inbound Skyway toward downtown Buffalo.

Higgins and Kennedy say the Skyway is also blocks access to the harbor front and is impeding future waterfront development.

But not everyone agrees.

“I don't want to hear about lack of access to the outer harbor — it takes one minute,” shouted Robert Altman, Amherst resident.

Altman confronted Higgins and Kennedy at the news conference saying the Skyway provides the best and quickest access to the harbor.

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Robert Altman, Amherst resident, confronted Higgins and Kennedy at news conference.

“There’s no better view of the harbor. It ridiculous! This is the most beautiful sight of this town,” described Altman.

The Campaign for Greater Buffalo agrees that the elevated Skyway provides an incredible view.

But executive director Tim Tielman says the only section that should be removed is the area over the Canal District.

“And retain it all the way out to Buffalo Harbor State Park for pedestrians and tourist attraction,” Tielman replied.

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Campaign for Greater Buffalo executive director Tim Tielman.

Tielman says they are advocating for the “Cloud Walk" to be built that keeps the elevated platform in place for walking, biking and spectacular view of Lake Erie.

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Proposed redesign, reuse of a portion of Skway.

“That's a public space — 100 feet in the air with spectacular views that can continue to serve a transportation role,” Tielman responded.

Still, Higgins says the Skyway remains a danger, with fractures, no shoulders for disabled vehicles and shuts down more than 190 times a year due to weather, accidents and other troubles.