What do you think should be done about the Buffalo Skyway? Members of the public, this week, are getting their chance to tell the New York State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration what they think.
The agencies scheduled three public meetings in Blasdell and Buffalo on Tuesday and Wednesday. DOT Regional Public Information Officer Susan Surdej said the department wants community feedback on a wide range of options.
"We've designed three different meetings at three separate times because we want to try to accommodate commuters that use this corridor, no matter what shift they're working," Surdej said. "We want to gather public opinion and we want to really hear from people that not only live by the Skyway, but use the Skyway to commute.”
About 50 people arrived to Tuesday afternoon's meeting in Blasdell in just the first half-hour. M
"I just came to see because I live in the Old First Ward and we, according to some of these proposals, would be greatly impacted by it," said Martha Heidinjer. "So I just wanted to see exactly what they're planning and make my voice heard, because I live there."
Members of the Hoak family, of Hoak's restaurant, also were there.
"People in the Southdowns make their livelihood in Buffalo and have to get into Buffalo. I've used the Skyway. My wife has used the Skyway. It's been wonderful. We enjoy the view," said Mr. Hoak.
"But I think we're open to an alternative that will give us access," his wife added.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the winner of the "Aim for the Sky" design competition to reimagine the Buffalo Skyway back in September. The design called for removing half of the Skyway and turning the rest into a “Sky Park” for pedestrians and bicyclists, but that is not necessarily what’s going to happen.
Surdej said that winner is just one of 25 potential concepts being presented for public feedback.
"Now we have a whole pool. All of those concepts are being considered and will be analyzed until we get to a preferred alternative," she said. "This is why it's really important for the public to tell us what they want, what they need."
Wednesday’s meeting is being held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Southside Elementary School in Buffalo. A final environmental impact statement for the Skyway redesign is expected to be finished by 2021.