The Buffalo Skyway can be adapted for non-vehicular re-use, all we need do is look for alternatives to demolition. The bridge is a familiar sight to anyone one who lives in or has visited the city. An observer on a boat on Lake Erie, the Niagara River or standing on the Fort Erie, Canada waterfront is treated to a signature view.
The Skyway was designer and lead engineer was Edward P. Lupfer, He had a similar role in the construction of the International Peace Bridge in the late 1920s. The Skyway came to life in October 1955 as a route between the heavy steel and cargo industries on the Buffalo Outer Harbor and City of Lackawanna.
It was constructed 7,000 feet long to allow for a water clearing elevation of 193 ft over the Buffalo Ship Canal and 215 ft over the Buffalo River. This made it possible for the ships of the various Great Lakes fleets access the Buffalo River inner harbor cereal, grain storage, chemical, steel, warehousing and other industries that lined a 5 mile segment of the river.
Today, the heavy industry of the lake and river waterfronts are gone. River traffic is probably down to less than 25 ships per year instead of 25+ ships per day. It has been reported that it keeps some 30 acres of prime waterfront from being developed. The New York State Department of Transportation has labeled the structure as a “deficient” bridge. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation is even more harsh calling the Skyway :”fracture critical.” That means it could suffer a structure catastrophe.
It will cost $100 million to demolish the structure or over the coming years $125 million to keep it from failing. People hear that number and automatically say, “that is an awful lot of money!” If you put it in perspective number really is not that great. An F-22 Raptor costs $150 million each. ;-)
i was in favor of demolition for a long time. But, I made a 180 degree turn when, a couple of days ago, I stumble upon a Ran Webber presentation from 4 years ago. He has an idea that provides an adaptive reuse of the Skyway at a public-private cost of $285 million, two F-22 Raptor’s. It is daring. It is creative. It is entirely unique. It is an opportunity for the community to really make a statement. Unfortunately, it looks like there is very little political or community interest.