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Letter: Taking down the Skyway will open up opportunity

The Feb. 28 and March 2 editorials in The Buffalo News on the fate of the Buffalo Skyway got it exactly right. Buffalo and the state of New York have a once-in-a-century opportunity to invest in infrastructure that meets multiple community goals: enhancing mobility, promoting economic development, creating jobs, and reimagining the possibilities of Buffalo’s waterfront.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement last week of a $100,000 design competition to decide what will replace the Skyway underscores the urgency and opportunity to transform Buffalo’s waterfront with ambition and imagination, in a state that has already shown leadership in replacing aging highway infrastructure with designs that re-knit communities, open up redevelopment opportunities, and meet cities where they are today, not where they were a half century ago.

New York already has numerous examples of this leadership, including the work on the Robert Moses Parkway to expand the green space of Niagara Falls State Park, an approach the Congress for the New Urbanism recommended in 2014. When finished, it will be the park’s largest expansion since its creation in 1885. Elsewhere in New York, state and municipal leaders are removing highways in Rochester, the Bronx, and in Buffalo, where New York State Department of Transportation is reconsidering its formerly car-oriented plans for Scajaquada and Kensington Expressways.

Congressman Brian Higgins and his colleagues have led the charge for more than a decade now to reconsider the enormous, unrealized potential in the location where this 100-foot-high bridge now blocks the river, depresses land value, separates citizens from a superb natural asset, and hinders economic development.

The Skyway’s current condition represents an incredible opportunity for Buffalo. Taking it down will unlock great potential instead of maintaining the status quo. That’s the future for Buffalo.

Lynn Richards

President and CEO

Congress for the New Urbanism

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