Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) brought his message about the need to tear down the City of Buffalo Skyway to the annual Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) Conference in Providence, Rhode Island this week.
“Buffalo can learn from Cities like Milwaukee, where the removal of their elevated highway resulted in a 288% increase in property values over a five year period on the land in closest proximity to the former arterial,” said Congressman Higgins, a member of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “An interesting part of the John Norquist’s presentation showed what cities like Paris, Berlin and Rio de Janeiro would look like with an elevated highway running through each. The notion is ridiculous and demonstrates the impact smart infrastructure design has in those cities and the impact it can have in Buffalo.”
Former Milwaukee Mayor and CNU President John Norquist invited Congressman Higgins to be a featured presenter at a panel discussion entitled “Back to Boulevards.” The dialogue centered on successes seen in San Francisco, New York, Portland and Milwaukee when surface streets replaced freeways. Focus was placed on the potential for Buffalo, Louisville and Seattle to see similar economic and environmental benefits through the transformation of urban freeways that separate each city’s downtown and waterfront areas. President for the Center for Neighborhood Technology Scott Bernstein, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Deputy Director of Planning William Lieberman and John Norquist also participated in the discussion about methods for changing urban infrastructure investments to add value to cities.
The CNU recently chose Buffalo as one of three cities where it will examine the benefits of replacing superhighways with at-grade streets. The initiative will combine research and analysis of property values, traffic performance, and policy systems with on-the ground constituency building and cultivation.