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Working With What’s There

hudson walkwayLooks like those backward downstate New Yorkers are at it again. First, there was the successful High Line that reused a defunct Manhattan rail line as a public park, and now the Walkway Over the Hudson, the newest NYS park, which opened to the public on October 3. They even got Empire State Development grant money to help make it a reality.

A New York Times editorial describes it as “the latest example of the new kinds of infrastructure- for tourism and recreation- that are reshaping the Hudson Valley.”

Could something similar be done with the Skyway, if it’s ever decommissioned as a vehicular roadway? I’ve wondered about it.  Some local folks think it’s worth considering, before spending tens of millions of dollars to tear it down and stuff all the scrap into our already bulging landfills.

And besides, the Skyway is part of our history.

Then again, maybe it’s just that people from downstate aren’t as afraid of heights as we are.

  • Lou R

    NOW WE’RE TALKING! This would be an ideal spot to hold soap box derby and other gravity-type related events.

    Careful though. Smoking Joe might want to turn it into Snow Park on the Skyway and hang a big Red Bull sign or some such off of it. Perhaps it could be used for that ‘much needed housing?’ Underneath>>>?

    Or maybe, one of those really cool perpetual motion swinging-ball/back-and-forth machines. Just really, really BIG.
    O O O O O

  • Seth Payson

    I like the idea of taking the road bed down and leaving the supports. Buffalo’s Stonehenge, what a great tourist attraction.

  • RaChaCha

    Buck, these are both outstanding projects — and your point that we have the raw material locally to create these kinds of cool amenities out of our old infrastructure is spot-on. I first met Fred Schaeffer of Walkway at the first statewide bike/ped conference, when his project was still a distant dream and I was pursuing funding for the Genesee Valley Greenway. Rochester’s Bergmann & Associates did some of the inspection/engineering work on Walkway.

    One of our most underutilized old-infrastructure resources is our old railbeds. The huge amount of abandoned rail trackage in Buffalo and Erie County could provide the raw material for an extensive, interconnected trail system on the (relative) cheap. Much of the development could be funded through a combination of dedicated grant funding sources and even Greenway funds.

    Ironically, there was great momentum behind such a plan a decade ago. I remember the map that was shown in the Buffalo News, and there was a big greenway meeting/conference at City Hall about this. I attended from Rochester, and ended up sitting next to Chuck Swannick, and he was effusively enthusiastic. Yet the momentum and plan seem to have died, with — best I can tell — just some die-hard supporters struggling to implement bits and pieces. Dammned unfortunate.

    BTW, A great piece of trail to implement would be on the old railbed that NFTA was recently trying to sell off (so far, unsuccessfully) in the Ward, near Gene McCarthy’s. It’s a high embankment, giving views over the roofs of the surrounding neighborhood to the city skyline — Buffalo’s own “High Line.” And it’s been abandoned long enough that it’s developed its own ecosystem (even tree canopy in some places), like the High Line did. Go see it, and you’ll be inspired to do an article. Contact me, and I may be able to meet you on site, and perhaps interest Gerhard in joining us, as well.

  • Rick

    Aren’t the objections to the Skyway over its presence in the visual field when looking out over the lake from within the downtown area? Decomissioning it but leaving it standing accomplishes … what?

    As one of thousands who use the Skyway daily, I enjoy the view of the ever-changing vista to the west – from atop the bridge, and find its simple uncluttered lines not unattractive. And I also commute to the south over the alternate route, Ohio Street, onto Fuhrmann Blvd so I’m well aware of the alternative to the Skyway. There’s nothing wrong with it – in fact the reconstruction of Rt 5 has reduced the hazard at its lakeside foot where it no longer goes to white-out-prone snow-swept grade.