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Are you ready for this? Hang on. Literally.

Kids, you can’t write comedy better than this. Tim Tielman has come up with a plan to turn the Skyway into a park. Here’s the image and story posted over on Buffalo Rising.

Skyway Park

Now, let’s think back to all the reasons that people bellow forth as to why the Skyway “needs” to come down:

  1. It’s ugly
  2. It’s expensive to maintain
  3. It’s taking up valuable land
  4. It’s blocking access to the outer harbor
  5. It’s dangerous with all those high winds and blizzards and stuff

Now go back and look at the rendering and ask yourself what does “Skyway Park” solve for each of the problems listed above?

  1. It has moss now. It’s green!
  2. Two sections of road deck have been removed!
  3. Look! Grass!
  4. You can walk under it!
  5. Ummm…

Surely the “community” will see through this farce and recognize that NONE of the issues have been solved, right? Let’s go to the comments and find out.

OMG this is amazing its too bad our politicians have no foresight.

this would be cool…..hopefully it will become a reality. anything is better than what we have now.

This is very clever. Probably not useful to keep as much of the Skyway structure as shown here in the rendering, but wouldn’t it be a neat 110-foot-high pedestrian bridge? What a wonderful place to bring an out of towner – there’d be no place like it in the world!

All of a sudden, keeping the Skyway is a brilliant idea… as long as it can’t be used to DRIVE on. Nevermind the fact that you still have to pay to maintain it, high winds won’t blow a car off but they might blow a person off, and it is still taking up just as much space as it was before.

I don’t blame Tim, though. He’s just a preservationist, and this is a way to preserve the Skyway. The real beauty of this proposal is that it opens the door to keeping the Skyway for both driving AND pedestrian uses. If adding some hanging plants to the Skyway beautifies it, fantastic. Go for it. If people are in love with the scenic vista (which really is nice) then let’s hang a pedestrian walkway off the lake side of the Skyway. Put up a barrier between the traffic and the pedestrians to cut down on the noise, and voila! Scenic pedestrian bridge to the outer harbor! I might suggest an escalator or something though to haul our chicken wing-laden asses up to the top of that thing. Or maybe if there was just a way to drive up there…

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  1. I think both solutions have merit. I think the TT plan is too little of a solution and the “Geek Plan” is too much.

    I think the reason why people are against the skyway is based on two sections. The first being the section that goes over the new Canal Side project from the foot of Main to the 90. The second is the section that eats up a ton of land on the outer harbor. The actual section that serves a purpose, which is crossing the Buffalo river, does not present any challenges.

    If either of these plans were to happen, which is a HUGE IF, the sections that take up “space” would be removed.

    Making the 1600ft that crosses the river a walking bridge is a great solution. I think the majority of the demo cost would actually come from removing these sections and not the sections that can be accessed by land.

    I do not think the maintenance costs will be the same and really only a fraction of what they are today because it will not face the same wear and tear as having 45k cars and trucks cross it. In fact, one could argue that if the “bridge” was mostly enclosed it would face the same maintenance cost as a building with is minimal.

    In terms of traffic, I think the need for the skyway is over-exaggerated since the Ogden Tolls have come down. For locals south of the city, the skyway was a path to bypass the Ogden tolls to get into the city or go north of the city. For cargo/trucks, the skyway was for access to our former industrial core and to get off 1 toll sooner to save a buck. Since the Ogden tolls are gone, there is no need for this major artery.

    Traffic that only intends to bypass the city, either to Canada or Niagara County should take the 90. It can handle it. Traffic that intends to stay local and access the city can take an at grade route, regardless of what happens on RT 5. People are creatures of habit and take the skyway simply because it is what they have always done.

  2. The reasoning that southtowners only used the Skyway to avoid the tolls is completely off base. Having lived in Hamburg and worked in Tonawanda, taking the 90 was slower and longer than taking Route 5 to the 190. There was no decrease in traffic on the Skyway when the toll barriers came down. The mainline 90 is a bottleneck during rush hour and Route 5 avoids that.

  3. Derek,

    Would you mind giving some details as to what you consider a bottleneck? What was the commute time from Hamburg to Tonawanda during Buffalo’s “rush hour”.

    While I agree that taking the 90 is a longer distance, I would be willing to look at the pros and cons. I think a commute under 40 minutes is fair for Hamburg to Tonawanda.

  4. I think a “fair” commute time is determined by the individuals that have to drive that route, not arbitrarily set by someone looking at it from a “planning” perspective. The Route 5 path took 25-30 minutes, the 90 path 35-40. From my perspective, I wouldn’t think it’s “fair” that someone increased my commute time 40%-60%.

    Relative ease of commute is an advantage that the Buffalo area has over other, bigger cities. We shouldn’t be looking for ways to downgrade that.

  5. Well since we are using the word fair…

    I think Buffalo should do what is “fair” for it’s residents and if adding 10 minutes to a commute for non city residents to travel into or thru the city is a byproduct so be it. I am not a city kid. I grew up in Amherst but I know that Buffalo needs to be strong in order for WNY to be strong.

    Ease of commute does not matter when there is nothing to commute to. Sorry Derek but you have to look at the bigger picture. It is not about you or I. It is about our kids. What kind of WNY will they have? The reason I ask is it is only getting worse. You and I are the same age. WNY was a lot different place when we were in HS. What will WNY look like when you and your wife send your kids to HS?

    Think about it this way. You are doing some amazing work at the CT. What if Broadway and William Street returned to the arteries they once were? That would do wonders for the Broadway/Fillmore area and other areas that have lost surface traffic since the DOT came in and cut up Buffalo 50 years ago.

    Additional to this, relative ease of commute is can be changed on where you live v. where you work. No offense but the commuter that you were, Hamburg to Tonawanda, should not be factored into the city. Say that this was still the case. Instead of the city sacrificing itself so you can save 10 minutes, you should either move north or work south.

  6. The waterfront does not only serve the city of Buffalo, it serves the entire region. Just as the infrastructure currently in place serves the city and the region. What Buffalo needs to be strong is to build on it’s strengths, not invent new ones and diminish it’s existing ones in the process. Quick, easy commutes are one of the things that make Western New York nice. The fact that you can choose to live among dozens different unique communities and still be able to get everywhere you need to, by car, easily.

    Downgrading a major road that provides access to the city will not help Buffalo. Downgrading a major road who’s proximity and easy access to other major highways will not help the businesses that are growing along the Route 5 corridor. It’s backwards thinking, instead of observing what’s currently happening and taking into account what’s likely, or what we hope to have happen in the future, which is additional growth. Growth requires infrastructure. The infrastructure is already in place. Keep it there.

  7. Sorry Derek I have to disagree.

    Downgrading a major roadway like the skyway will help the city. It may hurt the people in the burbs until they figure out a new path but it will not hurt the city. The skyway does not serve the city. That is one of the biggest cons out there. The skyway was built for two reasons. The first was to access an industrial outer harbor that does not exist today. The second was to create an artery to access the steel fields. Those do not exist today. The only reason it is elevated is because in order to service these industrial areas it needed to cross the Buffalo River. Function over form.

    What the skyway evolved to was a bypass path for traffic from the south and north to avoid the city. This is all it is today. It is a short cut to get around the city. You were a perfect example. You used the skyway to get south of the city to north of the city. From one burb to another.

    Look at it this way… Focus the conversation ONLY on access to the city of Buffalo. All other traffic is to go around the city. Because of this the city should not concern its health for bypass traffic. Especially when the 90 can service it just fine.

    The first main access point to the skyway/Rt 5 is Mile Strip road for the southern burbs. Only Lackawanna is more conveniently served by the skyway v. the 90 in terms of access to the city. Lackawanna has under 30k residents. How many of those actually work inside the city core?
    West Seneca, South Buffalo and every other southern burb would be equally serviced by the 90 in terms of access.

    The real story is the tolls. Having the skyway is a tool for people who want to live in the southern burbs to bypass the tolls @ Mile Strip road and points south. Period. It is cheaper for people to take the Hamburg Turnpike/RT 5/Skyway on a daily basis then take the 90.

    In terms of what is attractive to people, who are you considering? Are you considering people who already live in WNY or people who potentially want to move? People have a lot bigger concerns about Buffalo that saving 10 minutes does not fix. A rotting city core is one of them.

    The growth you talk about is NEVER going to happen as long as there are major obstacles to that growth. Need proof? Look at the development around every major artery in WNY. Heck in every city. Unless you already have overpopulation, this infrastructure hurts.

    The next thing you need to consider in terms of infrastructure that already exists is the secondary arteries like South Park Ave, Abbott Rd, Seneca Street, William St, Broadway, Sycamore and Genesee. These are designed to hold much much more traffic then they do. They cost the same to maintain regardless of use. Heck, people in Buffalo will drive 2 miles in the opposite direction of where they are going to get on the Thruway to avoid these streets. THIS is unhealthy for the city. There is a direct correlation between the fall of these areas and the construction of major roadways.

    Someone suggested on BRO that the DOT/City close RT 5 and the Skyway for a period of time to see what the effect was. Maybe a week or maybe a month. Allow people to find different ways to where they want to go. Allow for traffic studies to be done the the secondary arteries so lights can be adjusted to move traffic accordingly. Proper timing could service twice the population. It is done in every other major city.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is how I view the skyway. This is how I view the lack of traffic on the secondary results. Imagine the power to BF Alive if the traffic on Broadway doubled. Reached the levels it once had and serviced quite nicely in the past.

    Buffalo was a city of cars that serviced twice the population it has today without such things as the Skyway and the Scajaquada and the 33. These things were built for the burbs. Which is fine as I am a product of the burbs. But this blows out of the water any argument that these things serve the city.

    Take all of the traffic and spread it out and commute times will not skyrocket. Activities in neighborhoods in the city, which need it most, will however. A healthy Buffalo means a healthy WNY. Just imagine what Erie County would look like if it did not have so much dead weight? Imagine what Buffalo would look like if it did not have so many rotting areas.

  8. We can disagree all day long, lefty. Of course the Skyway benefits the city. It gets people in. From a previous posting:

    About 70% of the inbound Skyway traffic exits onto either the north or south I-190, and the remaining 30% continues onto Delaware through the city. Of course, we can assume that of that 70% that doesn’t go directly into downtown, a large percentage of them get off any any of the 14 exits that lead off the 190 into other parts of the city.

    The Skyway is not the barrier to development on the waterfront, the NFTA was. They sat on that land for 50 years and did nothing with it. The Skyway is also built further inland, unlike the 190 which really does cut the city off from the waterfront.

    Traffic light timing is wonderful, but it doesn’t require closing a road. And a 30mph road with properly timed lights still doesn’t equate a higher speed artery.

    The problem is that urban planners think everyone needs to live in a densely populated city and their plan to accomplish such things is to make it as difficult as possible for people that choose to live outside of the city. The Western New York area offers an abundance of suburban and rural living opportunities that, to urbanites’ disdain, is preferred by most people. Making it more difficult for non-city dwellers to access the city will only ensure it’s downfall. Businesses won’t locate within the city if their employees can’t get there easily.

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