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Skyway review moves ahead as petition to maintain bridge grows

All Skyway lanes to reopen for winter
Posted at 5:38 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 18:24:28-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — While we wait for the New York State Department of Transportation to complete its environmental review of the Skyway, supporters and critics of the its removal are on a mission to have their voices heard by the decision makers of this controversial bridge's fate.

"Everyone [is] mourning the disconnection between the downtown and the waterfront," said Tim Tielman, Executive Director of Campaign for Greater Buffalo. "Well, now our generation has an opportunity to right that wrong."

The Campaign for Greater Buffalo is calling for the removal of the Skyway above Canalside to make room for more housing and park space, similar to how the land was used prior to the Skyway's construction. The rest of the Skyway south of the Buffalo River, according to the Campaign for Greater Buffalo's plan, would be turned into a Cloudwalk that would be accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists to connect to Buffalo's Outer Harbor.

Similarly, the winning design of New York State's 2019 Skyway redesign competition would also keep part of the Skyway south of the Buffalo River for park space and pedestrian use. The Rochester-based team that submitted the City of Lights design won $100,000 in the splashy competition, however it is unclear how much, if any of its plan will actually be a part of the final proposal.

But many people want to keep the Skyway as it is. An estimated 40,000 vehicles use the express bridge every day as an efficient connection between the Southtowns and Buffalo.

"It is the simplest way to get across the river," said Scot Fisher, a Skyway bridge advocate.

Fisher says the 100-foot high bridge does not cut off access to the Skyway the way some people are claiming it does.

"We have been cut off from the water for 60 plus years, and the road that cuts us off is the 190," said Fisher. "I think a lot of well meaning people confuse the Skyway with the 190."

The DOT put together a Skyway Project Scoping Report in August 2020, which estimated that building alternative infrastructure would cost an estimated $600 million.

The DOT's Environmental Impact Study is expected to be released in the coming months. In the meantime, people are invited to submit their suggestions and ideas through a public comment period until the end of April.