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Cuomo wants fate of Buffalo's Skyway decided in 6 months

It could be torn down.

It could remain in place.

Whatever an international design contest run by an 11-member panel determines, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants it decided in six months.

He chided Buffalo's reputation for lengthy hand-wringing over public projects.

"Let's do it in six months," Cuomo told The Buffalo News editorial board Wednesday. "No Peace Bridge 2," he said, referring to the years-long debate over redesigning the international crossing and turning it into a "signature bridge," a plan that never saw fruition.

Cuomo told the editorial board that he doesn't have a preference about keeping or tearing down the Skyway. He compared the project to the High Line project in Manhattan, which turned an old unused raised railroad bridge into a park that is now wildly popular with locals and tourists.

Cuomo said he initially thought it was a terrible idea. "Who would want to walk along an old elevated railroad line?" he said that he thought. "I was 100 percent wrong."

He said no matter what happens to the Skyway, the $30 million construction project on the Skyway underway now will go on, he said.

"This is a safety project," he said.

Cuomo has appointed an 11-member panel to review submissions generated by his international design contest to seek Skyway alternatives.

The panel – led by Howard Zemsky, head of Empire State Development – will award the $175,000 in prizes set aside in this year's state budget for the best ideas.

The governor on Wednesday told an audience at SUNY Buffalo State that the contest, announced in February, will award $100,000 for first place, $50,000 for second and $25,000 for third.

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