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Winning Buffalo Skyway plan might not be the final plan

NYSDOT looking at 25 concepts for the Buffalo Skyway Project
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Posted at 5:54 PM, Jan 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-29 18:05:45-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are hoping to get feedback from the public on 25 concepts for the future of the Buffalo Skyway Corridor.

People can view, discuss and submit comments about the various Skyway plans tonight (January 29) until 8 p.m. at the Southside Elementary School in South Buffalo (430 Southside Parkway).

For those who cannot make the session, comments can still be submitted to buffalo.skyway@dot.ny.gov, or by U.S. mail to Buffalo Skyway Project Team, NYSDOT Region 5, 100 Seneca Street, Buffalo, NY 14203.

Comments must be submitted by February 28, 2020.

WASN'T THERE A WINNING PLAN ALREADY SELECTED?

Many people are confused because in September 2019, officials awarded a $100,000 prize to a Rochester firm after submitting the winning plans in the "Aim for the Sky" competition for the Buffalo Skyway Corridor.

"There was a design concept that won, however, that is not the only concept being considered for the Buffalo Skyway," said Susan Surdej, regional public information officer for NYSDOT.

NYSDOT must now complete an environmental impact study on all 25 concepts which include 16 from the "Aim for the Sky" competition, sponsored by Empire State Development, and the additional concepts created by NYSDOT.

The goal is to narrow down the list of "reasonable alternatives" for a public hearing in early fall. Surdej said the goal is to have the final preferred option in two years time.

WAS IT A GOOD USE OF TAXPAYER MONEY?

The "Aim for the Sky" competition paid out $175,000 in taxpayer money for prizes:

$100,000 - "City of Lights: Re-View our Waterfront"

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Courtesy NYS Empire State Development

$50,000 - "Skyway River Loop"

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$25,000 - "Queen City Harbor: Bringing Buffalo to the Water's Edge"

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Officials tell 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that the money helped "entice firms" into submitting creative ideas, all of which will now be considered when putting together a final option for the Buffalo Skyway Corridor.

"It was very, very helpful in pushing the possibilities of what is possible. It helped to form the process to a point where creativity is meeting practicality," said Congressman Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo). "The best features will be incorporated into a final design. I do think it is helpful and it has been tried this way throughout the country," added Higgins.

Information about the plans under consideration by NYSDOT can be found by clicking here.

You can view the top submissions for the "Aim for the Sky" competition by clicking here.