BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Congressman Brian Higgins is standing by his belief that the Skyway should be torn down in its entirety, despite a proposal which calls for part of the span to remain and be turned into a park.
That proposal won a contest, orchestrated by New York State development officials, which sought ideas for the future of that bridge. Under the plan, traffic would be diverted away from the Skyway. It would be turned into a park which provides panoramic views of Downtown Buffalo.
“There are many, many good elements in that program. Certainly, not all are practical,” Higgins said.
Higgins has consistently called for the Skyway to be torn down in its entirety in recent years, and reiterated that on Tuesday.
In September, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the design competition gave state and federal officials a chance to get on the same page when it comes to the future of the Skyway. Despite his opinion that the bridge should be torn down, Higgins agreed.
“We’re on the same page,” the congresSman said. “We’re working together.”
A spokesperson for Cuomo’s office did not immediately respond to request for a response to Higgins’ comments.
Higgins said Cuomo asked him to join Empire State Development Chairman Howard Zemsky in informing an environmental impact study on the Skyway redevelopment proposal.
“This is an evolving process,” Higgins said.
Higgins is also calling for a highly sophisticated synchronization of traffic signals be developed for main arterials in South Buffalo and on the city’s East Side. A similar system has been set up in Pittsburgh, he said, and has cut commute times by 25-40 percent there.
He indicated that could be a solution for the 42,000 people who currently travel on the Skyway each day when and if the bridge comes down.
“The winning design said they’re going to add five minutes to commute time,” Higgins said. “I reject that.”
Cuomo has said he wants the environmental impact study to be completed in less than two years.