Updated 09/24/2012 06:53 PM
Higgins questions future of Skyway
Thousands of people drive on it each day into and out of the city of Buffalo, but for years there have been a number of proposals to knock down the Buffalo Skyway. As YNN's Jon Dougherty tells us, a local Congressman says now is the time to act on it.
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BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Standing with the Buffalo Skyway in the background Monday morning, Congressman Brian Higgins said the Skyway must go.
"According to the State Department of Transportation, the Skyway is structurally deficient, it is functually obsolete, and it is fracture critical," Rep. Higgins said.
Higgins also said the Skyway and it's large pillars are taking up valuable space along the waterfront and it's slowing development.
Higgins sent a letter to the Commissioner of the State Department of Transportation, asking to put the brakes on long-term maintenance of the Skyway, while alternative plans are reviewed.
Higgins says it will cost the DOT more than $100-million in repair costs over the next 20 years.
"This community is going to spend that money anyhow," Rep. Higgins said. "The question is, do we spend it on an old way or new way?"
Knocking down the raised highway has been brought up for years, but Higgins says now is the time to capitalize on it. Higgins says within two years, the Ohio Street corridor will be expanded and a new bridge is expected to be built that will link the inner and outer harbors.
Rep. Higgins said, "I think the combination of a new bridge as well as the cost of the demolition is still significantly lower than the repair bill for this monstrosity."
However, the feelings are mixed. One of the waterfront's newest business, The Liberty Hound Restaurant, said the Skyway hasn't helped, or hurt them.
Liberty Hound Sous Chef Antonio Martina said, "I think it's indifferent to be perfectly honest. The people from the city are coming down here one way or another. The Skyway even makes it easier for the people in Lackawanna to come down. It's just a five minute drive."
Rep. Higgins added, "No one thinks these things can change. We just accept that it's here while other communities are doing these kinds of things that are fundamentally changing the fabric of their communities, the identity of their communities and the economic potential of their communities."
Higgins says he's hopeful the 4-mile stretch of the Buffalo Skyway along the inner and outer harbors will be nothing but a memory in a couple years.
The State Department of Transportation has received a copy of the letter, and it is currently under review.