Our built environment directly impacts our quality of life and our access to opportunities, health, and well-being. Here are our thoughts on the future of Buffalo’s Skyway.

Submit your comments for the Buffalo Skyway Redesign to NYSDOT by the end of April.

Congressman Brian Higgins wants the Skyway torn down completely. The City of Light proposal, which won the design competition in 2019, outlined turning a highway into a park. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo recently proposed the Buffalo Cloudwalk, an adaptive reuse project to connect the inner and outer harbors for non-motorized traffic. 

There are as many ideas for the Skyway’s future as there are opinions on where to put the Bill’s stadium. However, no matter your opinion, we seem to all agree on one thing: as is, it’s not working. Urban highways do not support the communities which they monopolize. 

The Buffalo Skyway, which opened to motor vehicle traffic in 1955, was part of New York’s $1 billion statewide highway system project to create a “great superhighway that will run from one end of the state to the other.” Along with the New York State Thruway, the push for new highway infrastructure included the construction of the Scajaquada and Kensington expressways and the 190. On the heels of World War II, enthusiasm for city, state, and national highways was significant due to the desire for a means of rapid military deployment and evacuation routes in case of bombs or natural disasters. 

While our urban highway system allowed us to earn our reputation as the “20-minute city,” it also brought devastating impacts to Buffalo and the surrounding area regarding equity, economy, environment, personal health, and quality of life. The Skyway and 190 cut off access to our best resource: Lake Erie waterfront and the Niagara River. The Scajaquada and Kensington expressways split communities in half, destroyed Buffalo’s world-renowned Olmsted park system, and, together, continue to occupy more than 80 acres of land, which could be used as green space, blue space, and economic development. Our thruway system continues to contribute to urban sprawl: between 1970 and 2010, the urbanized area of our region has grown by 160 square miles despite a 16% decline in population, which has further reinforced our dependence on the personal automobile, the number one contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in New York state and nationwide.

NYSDOT is asking for community feedback on the Skyway’s future. Will you offer your vision? Here’s ours. 

GObike’s Views on the Skyway’s Redesign

As an organization rooted in the relationship between transportation infrastructure and community quality of life, we believe that: 

The primary considerations of the design should include:

  • The needs of our city’s most vulnerable, including those who cannot or do not have access to a personal vehicle, including access to green and blue spaces, jobs, necessary services, groceries, and healthcare;
  • Reducing vehicle miles traveled and the need to drive short distances (less than a mile or two; for example, from the inner to outer harbor) to support local, state, and federal climate change and greenhouse gas reduction targets; and
  • Connecting people through Improved and expanded public transit service, especially those who live south of the city.

Additionally, we believe that:

  • NYSDOT should not develop additional urban highways to support any Skyway design concept as their negative impacts have been demonstrated time and time again.

How to Submit a Comment 

Your voice is vital in shaping our city. Please submit your comment to the NYSDOT via their comment form or mail by the end of April 2021.