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Higgins to DOT: Stop funding obsolete Skyway

Chris Caya/WBFO News

After a successful summer of activities that attracted thousands of people to the downtown waterfront, Congressman Brian Higgins is once again calling for removal of the Buffalo Skyway.

Higgins points out the the state Department of Transportation recently rated the bridge over the Buffalo River "functionally obsolete," because it lacks shoulders, and structurally "deficient."

Monday morning at Canalside with the soaring bridge overhead, Higgins called on the DOT to consider alternatives to costly maintenance, including replacing the Skyway.

"Its size is intrusive, it sits on about 27.5 acres of land that otherwise could be developed and put on the tax roll, and it undermines Buffalo's ability to develop its waterfront to its full potential," Higgins said.

Higgins says it makes no sense to keep spending millions of dollars maintaining the elevated highway. The cost of upkeep is estimated at more than $100 million over the next 20 years.

The congressman pointed to the DOT's own 2008 Skyway Management Study and bridge data to argue that an infrastructure overhaul is needed based on the waterfront's development  needs.

"We don't want to get to a point where we're financing the reconstruction of the bridge when, in fact, we have alternatives that are cheaper and better and are more consistent with the waterfront that's developing here. It's not the old industrial waterfront, it's a new waterfront of exciting new possibilities," said Higgins.

The South Buffalo Democrat is asking the DOT to look at alternatives including replacing the Skyway with a new Harbor Bridge which he says would cost about $75 million.    He says the redevelopment of Ohio Street will provide an alternate route for southtowns commuters.

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