Commuters frustrated with the detours around the Skyway have a sympathetic ear in Congressman Brian Higgins. Though the re-decking of the bridge has been underway for a few weeks, he remains unyielding in his criticism. For Higgins, the $30 million effort is "a compete waste of money because that bridge could not be constructed today because it's unsafe. It doesn't have shoulders in the event vehicles break down."
The state Department of Transportation did hold public hearings as they rolled out their plans for the Skyway and the thousands of commuters who use the bridge each day. Higgins feels transportation officials were not open to outside opinion or analysis. For example, he points to the use of Ohio Street as a major part of the detour.
"What they (state DOT) didn't know, and what they should have known, is the fact that there is an Ohio Street lift bridge. And you will see in the mornings and afternoons and anytime during the day that traffic all backed up," Higgins said.
South Park Avenue, he believes, would have been a better alternative. The road runs directly from Hamburg into downtown Buffalo, though motorists are often squeezed through tight sections in Blasdell and Lackawanna. Higgins argues South Park's many traffic lights would not be a problem.
"Synchronize those lights to provide people with a real, unobstructed alternative to the Skyway. But, of course, they're not interested in local input as it relates to that. We provided them with a very clear plan with a cost of about $4,000 per light."