New York State

6 highways facing the wrecking ball

Fix ’em up or take ’em down?

The Buffalo Skyway.

The Buffalo Skyway. Shutterstock

Cars are just not getting the love they once did as people turn to public transit, bicycles and old-fashioned shoe leather to get around. This is especially true in New York, where transportation planners are facing a big choice: rehabilitate deteriorating Robert Moses-era highways or replace them with more community-friendly infrastructure?

Here is a rundown of roadways in Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo and New York City that face an uncertain future.

Inner Loop

Completed in the mid-1960s, the below-grade Inner Loop originally surrounded downtown Rochester. A $22 million project, completed in 2017, transformed the eastern third of the roadway into a ground-level boulevard, and the project is credited with resuscitating economic activity in the surrounding area. The city is now looking at doing the same with the northern section.

Kensington Expressway

The conversion of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Humboldt Parkway into an expressway helped develop the suburbs of Buffalo while accelerating the decline of the city’s East Side. Now, advocates want to turn the expressway back into a parkway that’s better integrated into the surrounding community.

Buffalo Skyway

Built 100 feet tall over the Buffalo River to accommodate freighters, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a design competition earlier this year to help determine the future of the roadway. Efforts to remove it entirely have yet to gain traction.

Sheridan Expressway

The state Department of Transportation is in the midst of converting this South Bronx highway that’s at grade into an urban boulevard that will improve pedestrian access to the Bronx River waterfront.

Interstate 81 viaduct

Construction of this highway divided downtown Syracuse decades ago but the latest plan is to remove it and replace it with a “community grid” approach, which would disperse traffic through a new urban boulevard, existing city streets or another interstate around the city.

Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

A panel appointed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is examining whether to restore or replace a section of the roadway in the northwestern corner of Brooklyn – while at least one pundit called for removing it entirely. The group’s recommendations are expected this fall.