Buffalo: Dead or Alive?

View of the Buffalo Waterfront from the Outer Harbor

Buffalo is a port on Lake Erie with no visible connection to the lake. The entire shoreline is separated from the neighborhood fabric of Buffalo by grade separated highways. This severely stunts the value of the city. It's time to imagine the city's waterfront without Buffalo's concrete wall of freeways.

NYC eliminated the West Side Highway, San Francisco replaced the Embarcadero Freeway restoring the Embarcadero Boulevard, Toronto has replaced part of the Gardiner Expressway with a boulevard and Milwaukee removed the Park East freeway. No serious traffic challenges resulted from any of these removals.

For the last sixty years Buffalo has invested billions of dollars in over-scaled roads that have degraded the city's street grid and pushed drive sheds deep into the exurban sprawl surrounding the city. These investments have coincided with a steep decline in the city's population and economy.

Now the city is further threatened with a new oversized bridge from Ft. Erie into one of its beautiful historic neighborhoods. There is also the likelihood that Buffalo will fail to seize the opportunity to remove the Skyway.

Buffalo needs to make up its mind. Does it want to be a city that can grow wealthy again like it was before the freeways were built or does it want to continue its steady evolution toward becoming not much more than a truck stop set in the remains of a once great city? If its leaders would open their eyes and embrace a new vision and strategy, Buffalo could begin to heal itself and eventually become the crown jewel of the Great Lakes.

John Norquist


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