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NYSDOT to scope alternatives to "obsolete" Buffalo Skyway

Chris Caya

Rep. Brian Higgins (NY-27) says the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will conduct a cost-benefit analysis of alternatives to the Buffalo Skyway.

The NYSDOT says rehabilitating the 55-year-old bridge will cost more than $100 million over the next 20 years.  Higgins and others have advocated tearing down the elevated structure for years, saying the costs associated with maintaining it should be put to better use.

The Skyway was recently deemed "functionally obsolete" and structurally "deficient" by the NYSDOT.

Higgins says his desire to replace the Skyway isn't about tearing something down, it's about building something up. 

"The Skyway was built at a time in our city's history where the economy was much different. The Buffalo River was filled with industry," said Higgins. 

"All of that industry is gone now, but we continue to maintain this bridge that is 110 feet above the water's surface, that is longer [and] higher than it needs to be and thus very, very expensive."

Higgins says replacing the Skyway with a lift bridge will cost less, and open up the downtown waterfront and the Outer Harbor to further development.  He insists it's a local issue that won't be decided by Albany or Washington.

"I think once people fully understand what the options are here, we will go with a new way. I always want to be positioning Buffalo to make smart decisions. The only way you can make smart decisions is if you have choices," Higgins said.

The study could take about a year. Higgins says plans for a new bridge are already drawn up and the environmental review is nearly complete.

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