Skyway is an asset, should be preserved
A national group wants the Skyway gone, showing it as one of the 10 “Freeways Without Futures.” Like others again beating the drum to tear down the Skyway, the group spouts the tired rationale that “it’s functionally obsolete and structurally deficient.”
These are false but popular claims for those who don’t care for the Skyway. From below, it doesn’t appear structurally deficient. The steel and concrete piers and road deck look well maintained. Of course there is a cost, but where’s the money to construct an alternative? What roads and bridges don’t require maintenance? And how will any other alternative affect commuter time and ease of travel? It’s hard to imagine a better route for travelers to access all points downtown and to the Southtowns. Ship traffic still needs to access Buffalo Harbor. From my experience, there are three or four closures of the Skyway in winter, but all roadways in Western New York face closures dictated by bad weather.
As to the Skyway hindering economic development, this is an old claim from a period when there was nothing at all happening on the Buffalo waterfront. Today there are many economic development and recreational attractions – all built around and beneath the Skyway.
As for its visual and safety aspects, if it weren’t constantly being derided as ugly and obtrusive, others might see it as I do: a rare place to get an elevated, unobstructed view of Lake Erie, Canada, downtown Buffalo and even Niagara Falls. Provide lighting to highlight the graceful lines of the Skyway, improve the appearance of the driving deck (e.g. replace the light columns with historic or modernistic columns) and slow traffic down to 40 mph. Add these visual and safety measures and the Skyway will be seen as an asset, rather than something that must go away. The Skyway is an important part of Buffalo’s urban landscape, and should be preserved.