A Skywalk for Buffalo
September 16, 2019
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo has, since its founding, supported removal of the Buffalo Skyway and its interchange with the Thruway. In 2007, it issued an illustrated concept called the Skywalk to mitigate the damage the bridge caused and allow reconstruction of the Canal District, Terrace Park, and the historic neighborhoods around them. The Campaign is working on refinements of its 2007 proposal, but it is timely to re-introduce the concept.
The Skyway was directly responsible for the demolition of the remaining two blocks of Canal Street in the Canal District in the 1950's, the demolition of an entire block the occupation of the lower three blocks of what had been Buffalo's first public park, Terrace Park, and was indirectly responsible, through its visual and noise bight, for the weakening of adjacent blocks of historic buildings that were scraped clean during Urban Renewal.
The Skyway-Thruway interchange has been for 65 years the greatest source of noise pollution in downtown Buffalo. This is beyond the obvious air pollution emitted by cars and trucks accelerating and de-accelerating 40,000 times per day at that spot. To be near it for a day's work would be to physically endanger not only your hearing, but risk other physiological damage. Below dangerous levels farther away, the noise is an ever present nuisance. This will hamper reconstruction of the Canal District, especially the North Aud Block, currently under study for redevelopment.
The Skywalk would remove the physical and psychological barrier of the Skyway, eliminate threats to public health, and allow full reconstruction of not only the Canal District, but also Terrace Park and the north side of Canal Street, as well as a further stretch of the historic canalway between Pearl and Erie streets. Let's hope Governor Cuomo makes the right decision in the upcoming days: The Skyway and its interchange must come down, and we must begin reconstructing the historic neighborhoods that tied the city and its waterfront together.