Higgins Says Skyway Elimination Makes Sense
On the basis of a newly-released New York State Department of Transportation study, Congressman Brian Higgins said, â€śThis report, completed in October of this year, confirms what many in this community have argued for some time â€“ maintaining the Skyway comes at a much higher price to this region than demolishing it will.â€ť
Bridge rehab costs, projected to be $125 million over the next 75 years, coupled with a reduced average daily traffic volume led Higgins to make this claim. Preliminary estimates place the cost of Skyway demolition between $30 and $40 million.
The report, released by the NYSDOT, was called for by Higgins in August of 2007. The â€śNew York State Route 5 Buffalo Skyway Management Studyâ€ť outlines maintainance costs along with bridge usage.
Higgins surmised, â€śIf we donâ€™t pay the price to demolish this 52 year-old structure, this community will pay the price in terms of lost development opportunity and future maintenance expenses for years to come."
Though the report does not specifically evaluate alternatives to the Skyway, its data concludes that if the skyway were eliminated, traffic could be handled by alternate facilities including the Outer Harbor Parkway which is currently under construction, the planned and permitted Ohio Street improvements and Tifft Street Connector, and the Inner Harbor Bridge which is currently under study.
â€śWith the recent opening of the Erie Canal Harbor commercial slip we, as a community, can visualize the great untapped potential for the acres of unused land under the Skyway. Opening up this area has not only an immediate economic impact as a result of new development on this property, but has a multiplier effect in terms of the new jobs and sales tax produced at commercial sites and new property tax collected through residential development,â€ť said Higgins, referring to the 25 acres currently swathed by the skyway.
According to the Skyway Management Study, capital costs invested in construction and maintenance of the Skyway to date have totaled $175 million.