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Kearns continues pursuit of Skyway demolition

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A member of the state delegation is asking the Department of Transportation to study the cost of removing the Skyway from Buffalo's waterfront.  

Assembly member Michael Kearns has been calling for the bridge's demolition since serving on the city's Common Council.  Kearns sent a letter to New York State DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald Tuesday requesting an Environmental Impact Study and cost estimate for removal of the Buffalo Skyway.  

"There has never been a study to see what the true cost would be to take the Skyway down."   

What is known, Kearns says, is that removing the Skyway will have a significant impact on travel patterns.  

"That's why we're going to need a national Environmental Policy Act and the SEQR (State  Environmental Quality Review Act) is going to be important because legally you need to do these things."

As a member of the Common Council, Kearns, who won a special election to the Assembly in March, visited other Great Lakes cities where waterfront barriers have been successfully removed.

"If you look at the economic development in  Milwaukee, it's miraculous. The return on taking down the  elevated highway (there) was incredible."          

It's too soon to say whether the DOT will follow through on Kearns request. He says just doing the study could cost about $3 million. 

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown also voiced support for Skyway removal on Tuesday, but said it would not come cheaply. 

"We are talking potentially in the hundreds of millions of dollars," Brown said.

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