In a letter from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT), Commissioner Astrid Glynn commits that the Southtowns Connector project which reconstructs Fuhrmann Boulevard “will not add one day to the Skyway’s continued existence.” On September 7, 2007 Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) asked the DOT to review concerns raised in a report prepared by Smart Mobility for the Congress for New Urbanism.
“This response reaffirms that the existing plan, which included appropriate environmental review and public input, is the best alternative to deliver immediate access to the Outer Harbor and meet our long term goals for implementing alternatives to the Skyway,” said Congressman Higgins.
In her review Commissioner Glynn states, “The retention of Route 5 under the Modified Improvement Alternative (the selected alternative) does not perpetuate the existence of the Skyway, nor does it preclude its removal. The current design is adaptable to any of the proposed bridge concepts the Department is aware of, allowing the easy connectivity of Fuhrmann Boulevard and the Outer Harbor to the north side of the Buffalo River.”
Construction bids on the Fuhrmann Boulevard project will open in November with work scheduled to begin this winter. When complete the project will include wide sidewalks, landscaping, multi-use paths for bicyclists and pedestrians, decorative lighting, signage and historical markers. The total project cost is $48 million consisting of $22.36 in Congressional appropriations, including $9.36 secured by Congressman Higgins. A $14 million Outer Harbor Greenbelt project, which includes construction of a public pathway and bank stabilization, parallel to Fuhrmann Boulevard, along the water’s edge is currently underway.
“The Southtowns Connector project is one of several significant developments occurring in our immediate future that provide better access, new public spaces and forward momentum toward complete transformation of Buffalo’s waterfront,” Congressman Higgins added.