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| Engineer Rick Chellman
Harbor Dev. Corp.
It Is What It Is
|Cong. Brian Higgins
Rip it Down
|You know the old saying about how when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade?
After years of debate over removing the Skyway for the sake of waterfront development, some say we should just live with it.
"The Skyway is where it is. Other communities have dealt with elevated highways and either live with them, (are) enhancing them or tearing them down." says Robert Gioia, chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.
For now, Gioia and his state agency that shepherds the development of Canalside and Buffalo's Outer Harbor, is in the "live with it" category, but not letting it stop anything.
The corporation is in the midst of a two year pilot project that lights the underside of the Skyway, the district hosts over 800 events each year, and thousands flock to hear concerts there, despite the steady beat of trucks and expansion joints overhead.
"We recognize that there is a significant debate on whether it should go or it should stay, and we leave it to other experts to determine that," Gioia says, adding that Outer Harbor development might re-ignite the debate. But in the meantime, many of the voices screaming to tear it down, have toned it down.
You can add Rick Lenard to the list, too.
Lenard works at RCR Yachts, on Fuhrmann Blvd., beneath the Skyway, with cars above each day and business as usual below.
"We have 150 boats come out and in. There's still ship traffic," Lenard says.
I don't think it's really a hindrance. It's paid for. How many highways in Western New York are paid for,?" Lenard asks,
The need for a Skyway diminished with fewer shipping boats going through Buffalo's waterfront says Rick Chellman of Nelson Nygaard, which recently presented a boulevard replacement for the Skyway to the Congress for the New Urbanism.
"We can still provide the capacity with an at-grade boulevard, just as many cars can get through there, but maybe not as high speed. The Skyway bridge has nothing to do with that at all,"
- Rick Chellman, Nelson Nygaard engineering and planning
Chellman says cities are now being rethought of.
"At the time cities weren't thought of as the jewels they are today. The thinking was putting highways and thruways through cities was a good idea because you wanted people to get in and out as soon as possible," explains Chellman.
"Instead of being a 'through' place, cities are now becoming a 'to' place, and to make a city a 'to' place, you can't have a 55 mile an hour thoroughfare through the heart of the city," Chellman says.
Chellman says the Skyway represents what was wrong with road concepts of the 50s and 60s.
"Noise is a problem, and the looming presence doesn't bode well for people at ground level," says Chellman.
He adds a ground-level boulevard would create thousands of residences and thousands more square feet of business space, and an even more vibrant waterfront.
|Artist Ran Webber's even bigger idea: The Skyway To The Future
Webber writes: "Buffalo, NY, could pioneer a prototype “Adaptive-Reuse” model for the future by reusing one of its most unique (like it or not) monumental structures -- an existing structure decommissioned from serving one purpose and then redesigned and developed to serve another purpose. Imagine the Buffalo Skyway creatively re-engineered and readapted to function as a signature “green” multi-use mega-structure, complete with a glass enclosed “green roof” and pedestrian pathway instead of as an overhead roadway."
READ MORE ON WEBBER's IDEA | See VIDEO and the Full Proposal