Another call has gone out to tear down Buffalo’s Skyway, the 1.4-mile-long bridge complex that connects the inner and outer harbors.
The 61-year-old Skyway and Route 5, which it merges with, have been named one of the 10 “Freeways Without Futures” in North America, according to a group dedicated to sustainable development.
Critics of the Skyway, including Rep. Brian Higgins and Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns, have maintained the 110-foot-tall bridge is functionally obsolete, structurally deficient, constitutes a winter hazard and is an aesthetic blight on the emerging waterfront.
The study by Project for Transportation Reform – part of Congress for the New Urbanism, a group that promotes “smart growth” and walkable communities – advocates converting all of the highways on its list to surface boulevards.
“Cities around the world are replacing urban highways with surface streets, saving billions of dollars on transportation infrastructure and revitalizing adjacent land with walkable, compact development,” the group said in a statement.
“Transportation models that support connected street grids, improved transit and revitalized urbanism will make reducing gasoline dependency and greenhouse gas emissions that much more convenient.”
The 2.6 miles of Route 5 between Buffalo and Lackawanna – which are referred to as a “blighted corridor” – was criticized for “oddly configured exit ramps (that) lead to a confusing series of one-way streets that further hinder access to the waterfront.”
Other highways listed include Rochester’s Inner Loop, Interstate 81 in Syracuse and the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto.
The Congress for the New Urbanism will hold its national conference in Buffalo from June 4 to 7.
With costs expected to reach $35 million for decking and painting the Skyway over the next five to 10 years, the state Department of Transportation announced in November 2012 that it would conduct a review of Skyway alternatives. Results from the review have yet to be released.
Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. began an environmental review process in 2010 for a new bridge. The potential bridge location has been narrowed to either the foot of Main Street, by First Niagara Center, or Erie Street by Erie Basin Marina.