BUFFALO, N.Y. — Governor Andrew Cuomo is offering a $100,000 prize to whoever comes up with the best alternative to the Skyway.
"The Skyway is something that we've talked about for a long time," said Cuomo on Thursday.
Thursday's announcement that the state is offering that prize for the winning design for a Skyway alternative comes as welcome news for Congressman Brian Higgins. He has been calling for the Skyway's replacement for years.
"While we're making good progress on the waterfront in order to reach our full potential as a waterfront city, the Skyway should be replaced," said Higgins in 2012.
"I think it's a complete waste of money that you're spending $30 million on a reconstruction that we may be replacing for a couple of years," said Higgins in April 2018.
Higgins says if the Skyway was designed to look like it does today, it would never have been built.
"It's dangerous. That's why it's functionally obsolete. So, if a car breaks down, you're down to one lane because there's no shoulder," says Higgins. "If you go to the Skyway today, you'll notice there's a shield underneath the Skyway at Canalside. It's there for a reason. Debris is falling off the Skyway."
With Canalside and Explore and More right under it, that's a problem.
"In a perfect world where the money's not an object, what would be your suggestion for fixing the Skyway?" asked 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik.
"Well, people have talked about a bascule lift bridge which essentially is a bridge that lifts at the center. But it's not up all the time obviously," said Higgins.
Higgins says a tunnel is also an option. Both would open access to the Outer Harbor.
"Do you think there's going to be anybody who is against tearing down the Skyway because they say it's a historic landmark or something?" asked Dudzik.
"People sometimes are reluctant to embrace change, but I think, by and large, people in Buffalo and Western New York have kind of just gotten used to the Skyway, and they don't think it was ever going to go away. It is," said Higgins.
Higgins says a NYS DOT study found it would cost about $30 million to demolish the Skyway and a replacement could cost anywhere from $120 million to $150 million. He expects the federal government to cover about 80-percent of the cost and the rest to come from the state.