While the state Department of Transportation has an elaborate $36 million plan to renovate the Buffalo Skyway, Congressman Brian Higgins wants to shift direction.
"The need to maintain this monstrosity is gone," said Higgins, who pointed out that the Skyway's massive footprint obstructs what is becoming a significant recreation area.
"Industry is not growing up on the Buffalo River. It's gone and it's probably gone forever. So, I just think that there are a bunch of other alternatives that will free up the land on which the Skyway currently sits," Higgins said.
Officials with the DOT are moving forward with their rehabilitation plans, nonetheless. Three years of reconstruction are expected, a project which will allow traffic on only one side of the bridge for a year and then the other side for another year. Traffic direction will be shifting from morning to afternoon, in addition to the extensive use of surface detours.
"We don't feel like we're over-improving the Skyway," said DOT Regional Public Information Officer Susan Surdej. A forthcoming environmental impact study will gauge the long-term viability of the bridge.
"It's going to evaluate the social, economic and environmental factors and impacts of the Buffalo Skyway and come up with a final recommendation as to the final outcome of the Skyway."
With 40,00 vehicles using the Skyway each day, Surdej argues that the aging bridge requires constant maintenance. An alternative can be found in the future.
Higgins, however, remains unconvinced.
"Why would State DOT say, 'We're going to study alternatives to the Skyway,' and at the same time make repairs that extend the life of the Skyway by 20 years? My point is, I think that we can extend the life of the Skyway for five years, keeping the motoring public safe," said Higgins.