Historic image of the Skyway in Buffalo, NY.

History of the Buffalo Skyway Corridor

Historic image of the Skyway in Buffalo, NY.

For more than six decades, the Buffalo Skyway Corridor (NYS Route 5) has occupied a wide swath along the City of Buffalo’s Lake Erie waterfront, extending four miles north from the former steel mills of neighboring Lackawanna to downtown Buffalo. It is comprised of a four-lane, limited-access expressway elevated on an earthen berm, connecting to a 110-foot-high bridge crossing over the federally-regulated shipping channel of the Buffalo River, ultimately connecting with both the elevated I-190 expressway and Delaware Avenue in downtown Buffalo.

Completed in 1953, the Skyway was originally designed to connect truck traffic from multiple large and small factory complexes and the Port of Buffalo to then-fledgling interstate highway system. After generations of de-industrialization and suburban growth, the Skyway has evolved to largely service daily commuter traffic from the “Southtowns” (Buffalo’s southern suburbs), carrying almost 40,000 trips a day as part of a regional system with other highways, such as I-90, I-190, US 219, and US 179.

Concurrently, since the 1980s closing of the region’s major steel plant complexes, land uses along the Skyway Corridor’s length have drastically transitioned from heavy manufacturing to largely recreational uses, premised on its waterfront location.  This change has had a strong effect on opinions of the continued relevance and value of the Skyway. 



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