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Southtowns commuters rejoice, as Skyway construction complete...for now

Mike Desmond

Southtowns commuters will be taking a different route to work Wednesday morning, with the inbound lanes of the Skyway returning to service after major reconstruction. Enjoy the simplicity of traffic both ways until spring 2019.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
No more of this...for a while.

Since spring, inbound traffic has re-routed over city streets while major work has re-done the Skyway lanes, under the first phase of a $30 million contract. New York State Department of Transportation Public Infomation Officer Susan Surdej said there may well be a different future for the seven-decades-old span, but that's in the future while this heavy maintenance is in the present.

Surdej said a lot of work was done this year and it will be repeated on the outbound lane.

"So the inbound Skyway bridge has been closed since spring and, during that time, we rehabilitated the concrete deck and replaced some bridge joints. We made some minor steel repairs," Surdej said. "So we've done a lot of work and we're completing Phase One, which means we will be re-opening the inbound Skyway. So both inbound and outbound Skyway will re-open."

If contractors and the DOT get it right, commuters will head home Tuesday afternoon on the bridge and will return on the newly re-opened inbound lane. This will continue through the winter, with the second phase starting when construction can resume in the spring and slated to be completed in 2020.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

"Phase Two will be the outbound bridge that will be under construction next spring," Surdej said. "Like as I said, 'spring' is a flexible term in Buffalo. Weather dependent, we always look at the end of March, beginning of April. It just depends on the weather. But next spring the plan is to close outbound, repeat essentially the same process."

Surdej said the work showed the bridge is in good shape.

"The bridge structures are very sound and this was necessary maintenance to keep them in good condition and good working order," she said. "So we're confident that while we look at our options and there are studies going on for the Skyway, we're confident that we will have a sound structural system that commuters and travelers can depend on for the next 20 years."

Talk of getting rid of the Skyway has been going on longer than that.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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