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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) After Brian Higgins made his call to remove the Skyway, the state organization he sent a letter to and his election opponent both reacted.
"We did receive the letter from Congressman Higgins (Monday) morning," says Susan Surdej, spokesperson for the DOT. "The department is going to take a look at the letter and examine the points in his letter. We will respond to the letter at an appropriate time," but Surdej did not mention a timetable.
Michael Madigan is challenging Higgins in November. He says the Skyway bridge is fine. "Functionally obsolete because it doesn't have a shoulder? Doesn't that describe every bridge in New York?" contends Madigan. "It's not functionally obsolete, nor is it structurally obsolete. Structurally, there are issues, but he said structurally obsolete, not structurally non-integral."
Madigan says the bridge is not a priority. "There are a lot of issues, but this is not one of them," claims Madigan, who contends fighting crime, investing in education and filing already vacant office space take priority over the Skyway debate.
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Here's Higgins Letter to the NYS Dept. of Transportation
September 24, 2012
Hon. Joan McDonald
New York State Department of Transportation
50 Wolf Road
Albany, NY 12232
Re: The Buffalo Skyway
Dear Commissioner McDonald:
Spending more than $100 million dollars to rebuild the Buffalo Skyway over the next twenty years would be a transportation and land-use policy disaster. It will cost far more to perpetuate an unsafe, functionally obsolete design which stifles Buffalo’s potential as a great waterfront city than it will to build better, more efficient infrastructure. NYSDOT’s Skyway Management Study (October, 2008) indicated that it will cost approximately $117 million over the next twenty years to extend that structure’s life fifty years or more. This is vastly more expensive than the proposed Buffalo Harbor Bridge, which is estimated to cost approximately $75 million.
We are drawing near to the point where this community will have to decide whether to maintain the Skyway, or replace it with something much better. I write today specifically to request that before any effort is made to put expensive Skyway rehabilitation contracts on the state’s rolling five-year transportation investment plan, that the Department undertake an analysis of alternatives to the continued rehabilitation of the Skyway. Such analysis should position this community to make smart decisions based on real choices, and should take into account the following considerations:
Since the Skyway was constructed a lot has changed. These changes include the understanding engineers and planners now have about the manner in which highways impact urban land use, the vastly reduced volume of lake-borne shipping in Buffalo, the increased appreciation for the value of pedestrian and bicycle accommodation, and modern engineering standards generally. Given these changes, if we were going to design the ideal transportation infrastructure for Buffalo’s waterfront today, from scratch, there is no way we would design anything remotely resembling the Buffalo Skyway. To invest several tens of millions of dollars to keep it up is to perpetuate failure. Again, I urge the Department to undertake a robust and meaningful analysis of its alternatives. I thank you for your leadership and your consideration.
Member of Congress