The removal of the Skyway is not a simple process, if it was, it would have been gone long ago.
First, we must agree that removal without a good alternative is foolish. That would be like having a snow emergency 365 days a year.
The alternative must handle 100 percent of the current traffic load of 40,000 vehicles per day and at similar speeds.
Second, we must agree that the high-speed alternative not be located on the Outer Harbor. Fortunately, the New York State Department of Transportation has just begun to evaluate inland alternatives for the Skyway. One such alternative would take Route 5 inland at Tifft Street and follow the rail right of way north, crossing the river, and tying in to the Niagara Thruway at Hamburg Street.
While other locations to tie in to Route 5 are possible, this alternative presents the simplest and likely cheapest. The further south the tie in is made, the more expensive and complicated it becomes.
Once the alternative is in place, demolition of the Skyway, the elevated section of Route 5 on the Outer Harbor, and all the on/off ramps from the Skyway in our downtown area would occur. That itself will provide a major boost for downtown.
Finally, we can design and build a new low speed connection to the Outer Harbor. While a tunnel would be higher in initial cost, the benefits would be substantial. A tunnel would not interfere with the historic aspects of Canalside and would also provide light rail and pedestrian access. The tunnel would connect up to Delaware Avenue at the point where the current Skyway lands.
On the Outer Harbor we would construct a circle at the exit so that traffic would easily be able to access the entire Outer Harbor including the historic light house and the nature preserve.
We would also re-connect Fuhrmann Boulevard to the Hamburg Turnpike by replacing the bridge over the Union Ship Canal. Fuhrmann Boulevard and the circle could be named for Frederick Law Olmsted to honor his many contributions to our city.
This will take a lot of work. Let’s get started.