Public comments for the Skyway redesign are due today. Our comments are outlined below.

We encourage you to submit comments as well!

Communities, organizations and agencies have been working together to create a Buffalo that is vibrant, welcoming and accessible, and the re-envisioning of the Route 5 corridor is a crucial link in realizing this vision. The Buffalo Skyway has negatively impacted the economic viability and quality of place of Downtown Buffalo and our waterfront for nearly 70 years by occupying a significant portion of downtown waterfront land for one purpose – to move motor vehicles at highway speeds. As we consider the removal or repurposing of the Skyway to correct these legacy burdens, we must ensure the alternatives do not repeat past mistakes.

The lead agency for the Skyway redesign, NYSDOT, has released a project needs statement to guide the development of the environmental impact statement, as required by federal law to address potential social, economic, and environmental conditions that may result from the proposed project.

The current project needs statement outlined by NYSDOT correctly looks at how to accommodate planned recreation, mixed-use and waterfront development to add economic vitality in the areas where this infrastructure negatively impacts the quality of life in our city and region. However, it does so by simply looking at removing the Skyway structure and accommodating the existing motor vehicle traffic elsewhere–falling short of the touted aspirational goals, particularly if this burden of automobile traffic is placed on communities that have faced systemic disinvestment and economic marginalization.

Active mobility makes people’s lives better, and our public spaces belong to all people and should accommodate all types of mobility, not just motor vehicles. As we’ve seen at Canalside, placemaking has enormous economic benefits for individuals, businesses and cities. As the Green Code emphasized, sustainable development will lead our city to greater prosperity and resiliency while slowing and allowing adaptation to climate change. This can be realized through the development of a better project needs statement to lead the Skyway removal project towards an alternative that values the needs and quality of life of people above the movement of vehicles.

Please consider the following:

A $20 million investment has just been made by NYS in the Skyway, adding decades of life to the structure. Instead of tearing it down, opportunities for repurposing it for all types of mobility would provide a more cost-conscious and sustainable investment.
Personal vehicles are the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Erie County. Adding better transit options, whether it be rail or bus, to communities south of the city would allow sustainable movement of more people while reducing the number of vehicles on the roadway.
Investing in our public spaces to better serve people living in our neighborhoods equitably – not burdening them with additional through traffic – will provide economic advantages for individuals and businesses while improving quality of life and creating more inclusive communities.
Americans have a right to travel and the freedom to choose the mode by which they travel. Safe, affordable and efficient travel via modes that support community, environment, and social mobility should be of foremost concern on any investment in public spaces.
Submit your comments via the online form here.