Competition Would Solicit Ideas for Alternatives to Skyway that Maximizes Waterfront Access for Residents and Provides Safe and Convenient Transportation for Motorists
Competition Will Take Six Months, Panel of Experts Will Review Proposals, State Will Offer $100,000 Prize to Winning Design, Public Hearings Will Take Into Account Community Input
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced additional details for a competition to explore alternatives to the Buffalo Skyway. The current design of the Skyway is functionally obsolete, structurally deficient and unpopular with commuters. Currently, the only option is to rebuild the 60-year-old Skyway, a structure that would never be constructed today. The competition would explore alternatives to the Skyway that would maximize waterfront access for residents while providing safe and convenient transportation for motorists.
The Governor announced that this year's budget will include a national design competition to solicit the best idea for an alternative to the Skyway. The state will solicit ideas from design firms, community planners, urban planners, architects and others. The competition will take six months, and an expert panel will review the proposals and choose a winning design. Factors that judges will consider include the cost of the proposal and the timing of its implementation. In addition to the local, state and national recognition, the winning proposal will receive a $100,000 prize for their design. There will be a series of public hearings for community input.
"The skyway was built for a different time and a different economy, and it created a blockade to the waterfront. Now we need to do the exact opposite and come up with an alternative design for the skyway," Governor Cuomo said. "Let's stop talking about studies and instead do a competition to solicit ideas from the best designers, architects and community planners and come up with a real plan for the skyway that creates a connected Buffalo with access to the waterfront and supports the region's economy."
"Buffalo's new image requires a new, forward thinking approach to our outdated infrastructure," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "As someone who sees the skyway out my window at home, I know that we can do better. Not only is this elevated structure unsafe during winter conditions, it has been obsolete almost since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway diverted much of the shipping away from Buffalo. Our community should be open to new, creative possibilities to truly re-imagine our waterfront."
The Skyway was designed with a 110-foot clearance to accommodate industrial work on the Buffalo River, making the bridge larger and longer. Today, the Buffalo River is primarily used as a recreational waterway, and the elevated highway is no longer necessary. An alternative design of this highway would open up waterfront land that isn't currently accessible and further the revival of Western New York.
Congressman Brian Higgins said, "The Buffalo Skyway is an obsolete piece of infrastructure, that no longer meets today's engineering standards or the needs of the new Buffalo. I commend Governor Cuomo and Senator Tim Kennedy for their leadership in commencing a competition that will invite innovative design alternatives to the Buffalo Skyway. This leadership sets forth action on the Skyway that continues the great momentum we've accomplished toward opening up access to our waterfront."
Senator Tim Kennedy, Chair of the Senate's Transportation Committee, said, "Our waterfront is our region's most precious resource, and the continued progress along the inner and Outer Harbor demonstrates the strong investment we're making in Buffalo's recreation, tourism, and conservation. A critical component of that includes the incorporation of a robust and feasible transportation structure, which is why I'm working to include $100,000 in this year's budget for a competition focused on creating alternative designs for the Skyway. Congressman Higgins and I have long called for an assessment of the Skyway's removal, and we're eager to work with Governor Cuomo and the DOT to encourage and review alternative projects that will not only enhance experiences for residents and visitors, but will ensure a connectivity that is key to long-term growth."
Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "The Governor's idea for a design competition is a very creative approach to reimagine what this roadway could be to improve transportation access and stimulate additional economic development."