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Higgins & Kennedy call for removal of Hamburg tolls, immediate new waterfront access & improved commute options for southtown residents

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Mon, Jun 7th 2021 11:20 am

Leaders tell state Skyway project won’t proceed or succeed until groundwork is done to meet community needs

Congressman Brian Higgins and New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy say the Skyway project will remain on hold until the state addresses the needs of the community. They are calling for several transportation improvements to plan for the eventual removal of the Skyway, including removal of the tolls for Hamburg commuters.

Higgins and Kennedy maintain that the Skyway is an overbuilt obstruction that sells short the full potential of Buffalo’s waterfront. They said recent repairs only extend the Skyway’s viability for the next decade. The Western New York leaders are calling for the following “lighter, quicker, cheaper transportation improvements to better position the community in the future”:

√ Improvements to the thruway and the elimination of tolls at Hamburg to provide better options to commuters

√ More efficient stop light patterns to encourage neighborhood economic development and ease of travel in the City of Buffalo

√ A new parkway, park and bike path at Tifft Street connecting South Buffalo and the Buffalo Harbor State Park

√ A new Louisiana Street bridge crossing the Buffalo River at the I-190 and other improvements to build on the momentum of the Riverline and other projects

Higgins and Kennedy have been working for well over a year-and-a-half to push for the inclusion of measures into the Buffalo Skyway removal plan to enhance the project overall and to make alternative routes more efficient for Western New York commuters. They said the plan at this point fails to provide commuters and the community with a better way forward.

Higgins’ team said, “New thruway interchanges in Hamburg and extending the toll-free section would have shifted substantial commuter traffic off the waterfront and made Skyway removal more viable. Albany’s insistence on a new, elevated highway through Buffalo’s Hickory Woods neighborhood would have only repeated the mistakes of the past by replacing one blighting elevated urban highway with a new one, only in a new location.

“The goal of a successful Environmental Impact Statement is to lay out a project option that will positively impact the community. But the Skyway EIS fails to incorporate measures, including several suggested by Higgins and Kennedy above, which would produce that outcome. Because NYSDOT’s Skyway EIS fails to shift traffic inland by improving the thruway for Hamburg commuters, and because it contains an unacceptable new blighting elevated urban highway, the current Skyway EIS process will not result in the elimination of the Buffalo Skyway.

“Building out non-controversial aspects of the project, which gradually shift traffic inland and provide new waterfront access, will mean that the state does not have to repay the federal government for the amount spent on the environmental review process so far. This will position the community to be able to make an informed decision the next time that the Buffalo Skyway requires a major reinvestment.”

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