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Higgins: Final approval on Skyway removal project expected this summer

'It's about transitioning the Buffalo waterfront from its old, industrial, broken nature to something new, exciting, with limitless possibilities,' Higgins said.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo's fourth State of the State presentation focused on infrastructure in New York in 2021.

During Thursday's presentation, the governor called attention to Buffalo. 

"In Buffalo, we are taking down the Skyway, an idea first proposed 50 years ago, and creating a spectacular park overlooking Lake Erie. Our construction team is ready to break ground as soon as the federal approval comes through," Cuomo said.

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) has spent well over a decade pushing for the removal of the Skyway. He believes its outlived its usefulness. 

"There are a number of problems with it. In fact, the Skyway would not be approved for construction today because of safety problems associated with it," Higgins said.

Higgins is in favor of what's called the “Boulevard Plan” outlined in the scoping report.

"You would remove from Tifft Street to Church Street in downtown Buffalo, 3.6 miles of Skyway," he said. "You would create a parkway boulevard to replace most of Tifft Street, and then that would connect eventually with the I-190 at Seneca Street. There would be a new on-ramp to provide for efficient access to the 190."

He added that would be complemented by a 30 to 35-foot wide linear park.

"And then there's the funding of this project. I, as a member of the United States Congress, will have to get about 80 percent of funding for this project. The state will cover about 20 percent of the cost," Higgins said.

Higgins said they're moving forward with an environmental impact study, and he expects final approval on this project will come in early summer, with design and construction to follow. 

"It's about transitioning the Buffalo waterfront from its old, industrial, broken nature to something new, exciting, with limitless possibilities," Higgins said.

He believes this project is on the radar of the federal government, with President-elect Joe Biden and the new transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg. 

Higgins released a statement in response to Biden's remarks Thursday night.

The statement reads in part:

“Rebuilding our economy must include rebuilding our infrastructure,” said Higgins. “President-elect Biden gets it and I trust will follow through with action. Transportation Secretary Nominee Pete Buttigieg is already talking about correcting the transportation mistakes of the past that have separated our communities, a focus that will serve Western New York transportation needs well as we work to address divisions caused by the Robert Moses Parkway, Scajaquada, Route 33 and the Skyway.”

For more information on the governor's comments Thursday, click here.

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